In exchange for a school computer lab, village leaders and parents of Qumusea District School in Macuata have agreed to preserve 400 acres of forest, and plant mangroves.
The $105,000 computer lab was built by American-based group Seacology and furnished by ANZ Bank and Nukubati Island Resort, and students yesterday celebrated the opening accompanied by traditional leaders who vowed to protect the forest.
The agreement was signed by leaders from Nasea, Naqumu and Niurua villagers whose children attend the school.
Isireli Maqala, the turaga ni yavusa Vakalama of Naqumu Village, said they had agreed for the sake of their children.
“We want them to have a computer lab and know how to use the computers because we never had that during our time in school,” Mr Maqala said.
“So we have agreed to protect our forest, no burning, no cutting of trees and all villagers have been advised.
“In all the three villages, we have set up committees for this and they will monitor to ensure that everyone abides.”
Seacology executive director Duane Silverstein thanked the villagers, leaders and parents for their contribution.
“This is the third project we have done in this school, which includes the solar, kindergarten and computer lab,” Mr Silversteinsaid.
“And for these projects, we have an agreement with the community to preserve the forest and we are grateful.
“We travelled from America to open this computer lab and we are glad to be part of this event with the communities.”
The villagers will work with the Ministry of Forestry in preserving the 400 acres forest, and planting of mangroves.