Community hall in exchange for preservation of forest

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Qumusea District School students perform a meke durign the opening of the school’s computer lab in Macuata. Picture: SERAFINA SILAITOGA

American-based organisation Seacology has 28 community projects in the country, with the latest one on Rabi Island. Last week, the group gifted villagers of Uma on Rabi a newly built community hall.

The group’s executive director Duane Silverstein said the community hall was in exchange of a program to preserve their forest.

“Out of all the islands we have assisted, the Banaban people on Rabi who were evicted from their Gilbert home have received very little help,” he said.

“So we have assisted them with a community centre in exchange of forest reserve.

“The biggest thing there is burning of forest to clear the area for them to plant kava so we have an agreement and we are working with villagers of Uma.”

Mr Silverstein said this was the first time for them to work with the Banaban people.

“We are hoping we could do something here in Fiji for years and it’s so good to see people being assisted,” he said.

“All we want in exchange of our assistance is for the communities to reserve their forest and plant more trees and mangroves.

“It’s for the sake of their future generation and for their own communities as well.”

This week, Seacology gifted students of Qumusea District School in Macuata with a computer lab at the cost of $105,000.