Held on Thursday the 15th of August 2019.
Target Group: Local community leaders and members of the community.
Number of Participants: 25
Invited Guests: Two representatives from the Ministry of Rural Development
The activity created a space for engagement between communities and statutory authorities on the issues faced by the former, and also build relationships and local capacity for effective engagement on community issues.
The forum was a day long event with sessions led by Dialogue Fiji staff, Ministry of Rural Development Staff and facilitated concern collecting sessions, where citizens were provided an opportunity to articulate issues they faced and engage in dialogue with state representatives on those issues.
The location for this activity was Sigatoka, which has rural communities that are removed from the administrative, decision and policy making centres of Fiji and therefore have limited engagement with state entities.
Senior officials from the Ministry of Rural Development who contribute to policy making in the ministry were part of this forum. In addition to hearing concerns of communities, the Ministry representatives also informed communities of government’s development plans, provide information on service delivery, and procedures and processes for citizen engagement in decision and policy formulation.
Inspired by the Betzavta methodologies, and using materials developed by International IDEA’s Youth Democracy Academy, Dialogue Fiji hosted a 2-day long workshop on democracy education developing knowledge and skills of the participants to become active democratic citizens of their society.
The seminars also aimed to increase understanding of, and passion for democracy amongst young participants to address the issue of youth political apathy, and Fiji’s historical realities of struggling with democracy.
Dialogue Fiji (DF) partnered up with The Pacific Centre for Peacebuilding (PCP) and facilitated a 1 day community education workshop at Siris Apartment conference room in Nausori on Friday 24th May. This was made possible through the Citizens- Constitution- Consolidation (C3 – Fiji Project), a project that is funded by the European Union.
The workshop was attended by a group of youth participants, who traveled from Navua, Lami, Suva and Nausori in order to build on their knowledge on democracy and democratic governance, Fiji’s constitution, human rights, and peace building approaches.
During the day, facilitation techniques such as group discussions, plenary discussions, group work on skills development for conflict analysis and management were employed to ensure that participants were able to effectively engage on human rights and democratic governance issues affecting them and utilize conflict analysis tools for conflict management and transformation, which are critical skills for building democratic cultures and societies.
A majority of the participants that attended the workshop were not familiar with conflict resolution tools before or understood the importance of their human and constitutional rights. Dialogue Fiji saw this as an excellent opportunity to create awareness among the youth participants to increase their understanding of their constitutional rights and inspire a greater willingness in them to exercise those rights.
There are four co-implementers of the C3-Fiji Project: Citizens Constitutional Forum (CCF), Dialogue Fiji (DF), Media Watch Group (MWG), and Pacific Centre for Peacebuilding (PCP).
"This was an opportunity for Dialogue Fiji to review its priorities, and analyse and strengthen its current path" said DF Project Officer George Nacewa.
The Dialogue Fiji Committee and Secretariat convened over two days last week at the Tanoa Plaza Hotel, to go over the 'next steps' for Dialogue Fiji.
Over the two days, the Dialogue Fiji Committee Members and Secretariat had the opportunity to review its activities from January through to September 2013.
Together they discussed the many successes and lessons learned through out this period and how they could move forward with the Vision and Mission of Dialogue Fiji
"It was also a great opportunity for the Secretariat to present an exercise on Partners mapping" added Mr Nacewa
"This is where we map out current or similar spaces and work conducted by other CSOs and NGOs in Fiji, which will inevitably paint us a clearer picture of what needs to be done and where."
The Planning Meeting also provided a space for Dialogue Fiji to look at its 2014 Calendar of Events and Resolutions for the future.
From the 23rd to the 27th of September, a few facilitators from in and around Fiji gathered to explore the meaning and value of Dialogue in the Fijian context, and more specifically the Dialogue Fiji approach. It was a great opportunity for the Dialogue Fiji Secretariat and Committee to identify participants who will be able to lead, or co-lead, national dialogue events: to see who might be able to conduct Dialogue Forums in the future. It was an intense, spiritually and intellectually fulfilling week with lots of fun memories. For pictures of the event please click on this link /dialogue-events-in-pictures.html
Over the next couple of weeks, Dialogue Fiji will be profiling trained "Dialogue in Fiji" facilitators. Here is a shot of the whole group! We hope you enjoy reading their profiles as much as we enjoyed putting them together!
“I now have a better understanding of the dialogue process and how that can be used in peace building and promoting collaboration with the various stakeholders in the communities I work with”
“My goal is to start small and eventually work with more and more people, to help build this nation”
These were the words of Cakaudrove Provincial Council Youth President, Pelasio Vakarorogo. Key leaders from various civil society organisations, youth groups, faith based organisations, women’s groups and government ministries from around the Northern Division, converged over three days in a dialogue space designed to build trust, understanding and mutual respect to contribute to the development of their communities and the nation.
The Dialogue Fiji - convened event was held at the Savusavu Hotsprings Hotel from August 28 to 31st and included participants from the Bua, Macuata and Cakaudrove provinces.
During the three-day Dialogue, participants were exposed to in depth understanding of the methodologies of the dialogue process, understanding conflict resolution and peace building, and also identifying ways to move forward collaboratively.
A majority of the participants that attended the Northern Divisional Dialogue had not heard of Dialogue Fiji before or understood the importance of the dialogue process.
Dialogue Fiji saw this as an excellent opportunity to create awareness of their work as an NGO, working to set up safe spaces for dialogue in the country.
In May and July this year, Dialogue Fiji carried out the Central Eastern Dialogue and Western Dialogue, respectively.
Kelerayani Gavidi steps down from serving on the Dialogue Fiji Committee in pursuit of new career opportunities in Samoa.
Before leaving for her new posting, Communications and Research Officer, Fenton Lutunatabua, found time to sit down with her and talk about her experience with Dialogue Fiji
FL: So Kele, I'm interested to know about your motivations behind applying for a position on the Committee
KG: As a young woman, I have always felt that young people can achieve so much if they are given the opportunity and the space to be taken seriously, and personally, I have always known that any form of youth presence on a committee, would be an asset. When I was selected, I was extremely humbled but equally empowered to give it a shot, and I haven't looked back since
FL: What will you miss most about your involvement with the Committee?
KG: The members definitely. Each and everyone of them has taught me something different. The learning and growing they've allowed me has been irreplaceable. I will also miss the unique dynamics that the Committee offered the work of the Secretariat, particularly the enlivened discussions around decision making. It was always such an interesting thing to witness and be part of
FL: How has your time on the Committee and your understanding of the principles of Dialogue been able to better prepare you for the future- especially with the new job?
KG: I cannot stress enough how powerful dialogue is. In my new line of work I will have the opportunity to work alongside, and with various members of the region. Government officials, international parties and members of the diplomatic community. My hope and aim is that the tools and values of dialogue i.e. inclusiveness, respect, open mindedness and mutual understanding, will always remain the core
foundation of my work, and dealings.
I once heard that “the most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood, and the
best way to understand people is to listen to them.”
I believe that this is the heart and soul of what Dialogue Fiji is about.
Dialogue Fiji conducted its Western Divisional scoping from the 21st to the 26th of April.
They carried out the scoping exercises in Sigatoka, Nadi, Lautoka, Ba, Tavua and Rakiraki and were privileged to convene at spaces that was convenient for the Dialogue Fiji team and the participants of the scoping exercise. It was a comprehensive six days of creating awareness on the work of Dialogue Fiji and more importantly, an opportunity for the team to reconnect with community leaders who had already undergone their ‘dialogue facilitation training’.
To say the work that Dialogue Fiji is doing is great would be a gross understatement.
For someone who had just joined the team as the Communications and Research Officer, the opportunity to see the Dialogue Fiji team out on the field engaging with people, listening to their stories and empowering them to feel safe enough in that ‘space’ to speak their minds, was a marvelous thing to witness.
Mother Teresa said, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples”. This timeless quote echoed through my soul as I watched the Dialogue Fiji team, effectively communicate with, and listen to, the diverse concerns of the many individuals who attended the scoping exercise.
What they were doing was creating ripples, by simply stating from the beginning, that they were there to listen, that they cared and that they would connect with them, first and foremost, as human beings, and then as facilitators, later.
It was the first time for me to be part of a ‘dialogue process’ set up by the Dialogue Fiji team, and it was such a grounding experience.
So simply elegant, that anyone who was part of it could instantly feel at ease by the professionalism and sincerity of the team conducting the scoping exercise.
“Dialogue for me means communication or discussions between people based on respect and understanding. We need to strive to be great listeners and allow people the space and freedom to express themselves, whilst trying our best to understand, assess, evaluate and analyze the extent of their situation, before responding.”
Those were the words of Nirmala Pariachi, one of the very first participants of the dialogue process, and now the Secretary to the Public Administrator of the Sigatoka Town Council.
“I have found that it is always good to be patient and open minded, to talk, to dialogue and then to come to an agreement.”
“At the end of the day, we want peace. Life is too short; this process can give us an opportunity to grow, through dialogue and communication, it’s all about respecting others and striving to live in harmony.”
Other participants who have gone through the dialogue process have found it really useful for their work.
Jone Nawaikula, who is now on the Community Development team for the Fiji Rotahomes Project, informed the Dialogue Fiji team that if it weren’t for that training his work would be a lot more difficult.
Nawaikula is part of the Fiji Rotahomes Projects major new development called the Koroipita Model Community which is a fully serviced professionally engineered community close to three kilometres from Lautoka City.
His line of work allows him to provide families with affordable homes and services, training, educational support and even income generating projects- enabling them to save and in time, move on to a better life beyond Koroipita.
From the dialogue process he has learnt to be a better listener and therefore allow him to better develop the capacity of the people he deals with.
“All our training with residents here at Koroipita is conducted through dialogue, we listen to issues, we discuss them, and then we identify ways we can move forward. The dialogue process really teaches you that people are experts on their own experiences and we can learn so much when we listen to their needs and move forward from that.”
Another former participant, Joana Qereqeretabua, feels the exact same way.
“In my line of work, my team and I need to raise awareness on the very sensitive topic of HIV; the dialogue process has helped a great deal with our approach to this issue. It helps people understand and breakdown the stigma associated with HIV and AIDS.”
“We use the process of dialogue to open up the minds of people, not only as a tool to educate people, but to challenge them as human beings as well. For me, the exposure I have had to the dialogue process has helped me identify ways I can reach out to peoples’ minds and hearts. I am so grateful for it.”
Fanny Fiteli, Dialogue Fiji Coordinator succinctly summarised the work they carry out as a team.
“The whole point of the ‘dialogue process’ is to provide and promote, safe spaces for conflicting partners to communicate better and to bring peace to their respective communities, and Dialogue Fiji would be happy to convene those spaces”
“Conflict does exist in all or most sectors, levels and communities. We at Dialogue Fiji understand that respect should always be promoted in order to work through these differences. No matter how different your points of view, someone else’s idea is as important as your own, and the real secret to effective dialogue is listening to these diverse points of view and responding in ways that promote respect, understanding and peace.”
DF outgoing coordinator, Sandra Fong penned the following as a farewell note prior to her departure for studies in the UK
“Dear dialogue participants, DF partners, colleagues, and friends
Tomorrow is my last day with the Dialogue Fiji Secretariat. It has been an amazing 3 year journey with DF and I have prospered professionally and personally because of the amazing people I had the opportunity to meet and work with.
Thank you to the Dialogue Fiji committee who had more trust and confidence in me than I had in myself.
Thank you for providing endless support especially during the early days of DF with early morning meetings, late night discussions, and driving around the island for presentations and attending dialogue events.
Thank you for your unwavering commitment and continuous guidance especially on days when I was stuck and frustrated. Thank you for looking out for my health and even providing herbal medicine for me when I was sick.
I am blessed to have the opportunity to work with such a diverse group who believed in the need for dialogue and have a common dream for Fiji.
Thank you for continuing to dialogue and advocating for dialogue even on the days when you were suffering from a little 'dialogue fatigue'.
To the DF participants, thank you for the wonderful time we’ve shared, for opening your homes to me and sharing your stories and delicious food.
You continue to amaze me with the great work you do in your communities and inspire me to be more resourceful as I learn how so much can still be done with so little.
Thank you for trusting in the process and spreading the dialogue culture.
Thank you to the facilitators, the DF team and those who provided technical support to make the dialogues successful.
Thank you to the old DF team and the new DF team for your hard work and sacrificing your weekends to come into the office for a meeting, to pack or to travel somewhere which sometimes felt like the amazing race.
Thank you to all of you who provided support to Dialogue Fiji and especially to me from its early days in 2009, providing financial and technical support, providing a space for me to work, allowing access to your printers, internet, fax and phones and sharing your knowledge and ideas with me.
The decision to leave Dialogue Fiji was not an easy one especially during such a special time in Fiji but I leave DF with a new team who have new skills, fresh ideas and lots of energy to continue the dialogues and take it to a greater level.
I hope that you will continue to give the team the unwavering support that you gave me.
While I may not be with DF physically, I will certainly continue to provide my support in whatever way possible to the team and the process.
For those who wish to continue communication with me and do not already have my personal email address, you can email me on email@example.com
For Dialogue Fiji matters, you can contact Fanny Fiteli, my successor, on email firstname.lastname@example.org
Vinaka and Moce mada!”
I became a board member of Dialogue Fiji (DF) sometime between July and September, 2009 as one of the two government representatives who were initially involved with DF. The other government member pulled out when she went abroad for postgraduate studies. Thus began my personal and professional journey of self-discovery into an unfamiliar territory.
From the beginning of my involvement with DF, I was welcomed openly and made to feel at home. I knew many of the people on the board over a considerable length of time, knew something about their lives, their families, their work, their political and religious beliefs, many of which I shared and held close to my heart. They were individuals with excellent leadership qualities and strong views on how government should conduct its affairs. As a government representative, I was interested in listening to what they had to say.
If there is anything significant that has shifted my perspectives on life since joining DF, it is acquiring the art of listening to others, to different viewpoints, belief systems and understanding and appreciating the roots or sources of these ideas and the individuals who were expounding them. An important offshoot of this listening process is how to fuse these different ideas or viewpoints together and arrive at a common or neutral ground where solutions to our most common and critical problems can be resolved in an amicable, concrete and sustainable manner. Furthermore, I developed and improved my conversational skills.
I have taken these different ideas and viewpoints and the process of refining them and made them my own by redesigning or reshaping them and using them to resolve my own problems in my home with my immediate and extended family and relatives, in the work office situation, in the community where I reside, in the church where I worship and in dealing with my own people and their problems in the realm of the vanua. My time spent with DF has been a huge learning experience.
John Donne, the doyen of 17th century English metaphysical poetry once said something remarkable that might be relevant to the dialogue process and to paraphrase him, “no person is an island, entire of itself”. Thus, let us connect the dots in our ideas, in our thoughts and minds, in our hearts and souls and in our consciousness. Let us listen to each other, communicate our ideas, learn from the past, dissect the present, dream about the future, understand the problems that confront us, create safe spaces where we can collectively design solutions to resolve our most common and critical problems and hopefully build a better future for ourselves and our children. Nothing could be more important than that.