Weather Helmed

an adventure in renewing the spirit and living the dream…on a sailboat

Weather Helmed

News from Fiji

October 25th, 2010 · No Comments · Fiji, Random Thoughts

Ok, so back to Fiji for a moment…  While we were hanging out at the cafe in Port Denerau, I entertained myself by reading through the two local newspapers the cafe had on display.  Some of the news items struck me as quite interesting, so I thought I’d share a few of the (paraphrased) headliners from the week we were there.

Mining Camp Raided
Hundreds of people were forced from their makeshift mining camp on top of an old landfill near Suva.  The people had set up camp on the landfill so they could mine for scrap metal parts.  The hunt for scrap metal is so competitive that the scavengers had been digging day and night to maximize their haul.  Even mothers with babies at their breasts were digging non-stop for remnants of old tractors and other machinery buried at the dump back in the 1970’s.

Conference hosts trash debate
A young twenty-something woman spoke at a UN-sponsored conference in the South Pacific about the merits and difficulties of “trash collecting.”  The woman challenged the notion that burning trash is the best way to handle overflowing landfills.  She and her family are trash collectors – just a few of the thousands of people who collect and transport recyclable materials from landfills to the recycling facilities in exchange for money.  She argued that the current and encouraged practice of burning trash prevents people like her from doing their part to recycle goods and earn a living.  She suggested that the UN and national governments should instead consider implementing laws that would make it easier for the trash collectors to access the dumps so more people could – and would – do it.   (*This article caught my eye because when I went to Ecuador in 2000, we visited a huge dump that had thousands of people living in it doing this exact thing.)

Copra as a bio-fuel?
Anyone traveling around the south pacific May-July cannot help but see the evidence of copra harvesting.  “Copra” is the term for the dried coconut meat that is used to make shredded coconut and most all coconut-oil based items.  All around the islands one sees dozens of small fires where coconuts are either being dried or their husks burned.  Now, scientists on Fiji are exploring the idea of using copra as a bio fuel and building plants in rural areas to help farmers cut down on the costs of transporting their copra to the larger cities.

Local Newspaper is not anti-government
After a few critical months of fearing their newspaper would be shut down for good, the new editor in chief (or owner?) wanted to make a few things clear….   “To be seen as anti-government or pro-government are charges that do us no favor as a responsible media organization.  We would rather be seen … simply as a newspaper of integrity.”  (oh, if only our media organizations felt the same way! ha)

Ice falls from the sky! (I think the newspaper dramatized this just a bit…)
“We thought the end of the world was at hand.  Some fell on their knees in prayer but the children brought us back to reality when they shouted, ‘It’s ice! It’s ice falling from the sky!'”  Hail, falling in 1-5 inch pieces rained down on villages on the eastern side of Viti Levu for the first time in more than sixty years – if ever before.

Effects of the Drought
Fijians are watching the weather carefully, waiting for their rainy season to begin, as more and more villages are feeling the effects of the months long drought.  In some villages, people are having to carry their water jugs for miles just in hope of getting fresh water from other rainwater reservoirs.  Recently, in one of the city suburbs, fire fighters were unable to fully douse a fire due to lack of water.  “We had the hose and were spraying the house when suddenly, the fire hydrant just stopped working.”


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