USP Lautoka Campus Certificates in Community Development

Press Release – University Of The South Pacific

One hundred and fifty women, men and youths were awarded Certificates in Community Development from the University of the South Pacific Lautoka Campus on 17 October, 2011.
20th October, 2011

One hundred and fifty women, men and youths were awarded Certificates in Community Development from the University of the South Pacific Lautoka Campus on 17 October, 2011.

The graduation ceremony was held at the Sugar Cane Growers Council Hall in Lautoka and commemorated the International Day for Eradication of Poverty. It also marked FRIEND’s efforts in alleviating poverty with a holistic model.

The certificates were presented upon the completion of six months of Social and Economic Empowerment Training conducted by Foundation for Rural Integrated Enterprises & Development
(FRIEND) as a result of which more than 150 backyard gardens, 100 composts and around 70 income generation programmes supporting livelihoods have been established in six rural communities over that period.
The Social and Economic Empowerment Training Guide manual for Pacific Communities was developed by FRIEND and launched jointly by USP Lautoka Campus in March 2010. Since then FRIEND has been using the opportunity to train participants in a number of communities.

USP Lautoka campus joined FRIEND not only to launch the training guide but also to evaluate the programme and assess the work done in the communities.

In a very inspiring opening speech, the Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Law and Education at USP, Dr Akanisi Kedrayate commended FRIEND and USP Lautoka Campus for their efforts and commitment towards community development.

Dr Kedrayate also congratulated the graduates from the rural communities on their achievement and urged them to continue to make good use of the skills and lessons they were taught if they are to enjoy the benefits of their hard work in the long run.

In his keynote address, the Team Leader of the Program Management Unit of the European Union funded Social Mitigation Support Programme 2010, Mr Andrew Winter-Taylor informed the graduates that the wonderful opportunity that they had been given, to take part in the FRIEND Governance programme, should not be wasted.

Mr Winter-Taylor challenged the graduates to step out of their comfort zones and to “shake off the fear of failure and do not allow procrastination to delay getting their learning put into action.”

While addressing the graduates, the Director of USP Lautoka Campus, Dr Pramila Devi said she was pleased to observe the huge impact of the training in rural communities, such as the increase in both, ground level and hanging gardens, difference noted in waste management and other positive changes.

“After the certification both USP and FRIEND’s concern is to sustain the training and USP will monitor and evaluate the programme for the initial three years,” Dr Devi said.

She added that the training manual is holistically based on the Pacific.

Dr Devi is currently conducting academic research to examine the impact of the training manual and this will continue for a three year period.

In his welcome address, USP Lautoka Campus Manager Continuing and Community Education (CCE), Mr Hasmukh Lal highlighted that the Campus valued its commitment and partnership collaboration in this initiative as part of its CCE programme.

He said the Campus was also proud to be associated with this Social and Economic Empowerment Training as it directly addressed poverty eradication.

As part of this training, community members have set up back yard gardens, income generation programs, composts and disaster management committees as they learnt about active citizenship, good
governance, financial literacy, starting up income generation programmes, healthy living as well as disaster management.
The communities participating in Governance Training this year include Natalecake Village, Vakabuli Village, Vakabuli/Paipai Settlement, Ba Senior Centre, Qalitu Settlement and Neimasi/Bila.

FRIEND Director/Founder, Ms Sashi Kiran thanked the families of the participants for enabling them to be a part of the training programme and pointed out that her primary concern was on poverty and the need for sustainability.

“A key area of focus is on food security in the country and through this training, FRIEND hopes to see more vegetable and crop farming in people’s backyards which should result in changes to their diet from the processed junk food to freshly grown produce in their daily meals,” Ms Kiran explained.
She added that the results were quite impressive so far but pointed out that still a lot more could be done and achieved.

To motivate the participants and with an endeavor to build a better society, FRIEND runs an Annual Competition of Healthy Gardens. Some of these prizes were presented during the graduation ceremony to community members with ‘Aspiring Gardens’ and the ‘Most Outstanding Gardens’.

The prizes were watering hoses and other garden tools to help in backyard farming.

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ENDS

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