Year Two (For the Nth Time)

It’s the end of January, so I probably haven’t written in about two months. But I recently came back from Mid-Service Training and South Africa and have about 9-10 months left in country. With a lot to finish. And I found out my supervisor that I live across from was to change and now have a new headteacher.

Which is a good source of discussion and much intrigue. Good transition overall, the new guy is a little more serious. Works hard, grogs hard.

The main thing that takes up my time and commitment and all that bullshit is this here dictionary project slash climate change survival guide that I’m doing with Don. It’s what it sounds like: we are trying to publish and distribute for free a Sabeto Survival Guide, which will start off with information on climate change and it’s likely impacts on Sabeto District and all the relevant resilience information and then have a TatavaSabeto dictionary (ivolatata is the word for dictionary I’m trying to get off the ground, to little success), translated into Bauan and English.

We’ve got about half as many entries as we are looking to have overall, but every day in the past few days I’ve been sitting down with Don or Tai Vasu and getting stashes of words translated from the Bauan dictionary I have. An imperfect but functional method, and we are planning on having the two months of May and June for elders to edit it.

Also have to go to the other [lesser] villages, get their approval and ask the remaining elders if they know of any unique words from Natalau, Naboutini or Nadele/Korobebe[1] respectively. So far, from the perspective of Sabeto Village, the only odd word we know is the peoples of Nadele say tia instead of lia for “one”.

Applying through a SPA grant, which is the reason we are including the climate change stuff (much like in college, I only did an Honors project because I needed school funding to spend a month taking the TAZARA train from Dar es Salaam to Lusaka.

I am, to be honest, struggling to figure out how to make it less heavily biased towards iTaukei audience – it would be a fair amount of work, almost double really what I currently have to do, to include a Fiji Hindi translation as well. I certainly want to have as much information as I can find on cc’s likely impact on sugarcane farming, which is what Indo-Fijians were originally brought to Sabeto for.

My kind of actual secondary project is applying to a US Embassy grant to get money to erect a few historical markers to note the history of the 1942-1945 stay of US soldiers in this village and area. Two would go in the village, two up the valley at an old hospital and water reservoir, which now exists as remnants used by the Sabeto Christian Camp.

Reasons why this project is dope: 1. The Turaga ni Koro, Samuela Naquto (goes by Tai Samu) brought this up to me and wants to make this happen. 2. It’s history. It should be known. 3. It’s fairly simple and cheap.

We’re going to the Momo Levu, na Tui Sabeto as soon as we can to get a letter of support, and then we’ll use that to get another letter of support from the Ba Provincial Council (or the Commissioner Western or person of similar status), and then we can send in our application to the embassy.

So around July/August last year I started hanging out at Aviva Farm, a real cool farm led by this visionary fellow from Natalau, Livai Tora. We talked about a lot of things, but largely due to my complete and utter ignorance of agriculture the most we did was I helped write an article on the slow destruction of the Sabeto River and I spent a few afternoons working with the boys at the farm. And then I was busy at school and in a rut around November and thus hadn’t seen the fellows until I returned with some visitors (Adi, Carissa and her cool permaculture friend from home Adam). But Livai wanted to talk to me about helping to manage the farm and training a fellow to play a secretarial/management role. So we shall see about that, it would be like an afternoon a week. It’d be cool because I really like the farm and the guys that volunteer there. It would also be another, admittedly fairly small, thing to do.

This is going over word limit, so I’ll just close by saying that generally speaking it’s great to be back, I’m really excited for what we’re planning on getting accomplished, and I’m also feeling a lot more positive about being in Fiji generally and what my experience is here. I know the cool spots, the people, and I’m feeling a lot more social and determined and whatnot, a part of the community and all of those things.

Dji la.[2]

[1] Original name of the village was Nadele. Got destroyed by a cyclone in the late 70s, government helped rebuild in the 1980s and renamed it Korobebe, but locally people still call it Nadele.

[2] Let’s go.


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