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Archived News: August 2003

From Ned Taito in East Timor (29 August 2003)

United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor
Headquarters Peacekeeping Force
Public Information Office

Servicewoman Makes Fijian Military History in East Timor

Sergeant Fesaitu Kamilo Beci is making Fijian military history. A 15-year veteran with extensive experience as a clerical officer she is the first Fijian Servicewoman to serve in East Timor. As Fijian Contingent Chief Clerk she is responsible for the proper administration of the 209 service personnel located at 6 locations through out East Timor. She sees her role "as an administrator is to ensure that the troops receive the best service from my clerical staff and I.

Married with 2 children, Jone Vabauta Iranasau [7] and Mika Pedro Harold Iransau [2], ‘Kamy’ as her friends know her knows that being in the army meant having to make a lot of personal sacrifices. According to Sgt Beci "When it comes to family, it is really is a big sacrifice trying to balance my time--between work commitments and spending quality time with my family."

She brings a wealth of experience to her new posting. A qualified clerical officer, she has completed the basic, junior and senior clerical courses as well as computer courses at civilian and military facilities. She has served previous 7-month peacekeeping tours with the Multinational Force and Observers in Sinai, Egypt where she held the appointment of acting Chief Clerk of the Fiji Battalion.

As with all Fijian soldiers, she is also cross trained as an Infanteer and has done the Patrol Commanders, Skill at Arms and Section Commanders courses. Now on her third overseas deployment, Sgt Beci explains her success to the "challenge of working alongside my comrades in a male dominated environment has always motivated me to excel in everything I do. Above all I owe it all to almighty God for being the strength behind my success."

Why would she ever want to spend 6 months away from her family? "My hope and prayer is that when I leave East Timor, I will leave satisfied knowing that our mission of maintaining peace and stability has allowed the people of east Timor to have the opportunity to improve their quality of life."

Captain Ned Taito
UNMISET Media Officer - Military
670 723 0659
Ext: 4917

From Pam Tanu in Saukama, Rotuma (30 July 2003, posted 20 August)

In the district of Juju, the population is expanding. After being gone for six years, I see that new houses have gone up. These follow the new trend in the island of prefabricated wooden houses. They are nice and simple, and appear much easier to maintain and repair. Also, government aid is visible in the form of community water tanks. This has been wonderful in view of the fact that there are still problems with water being shut off at unexpected times. I just ponder over why, even though it is from a different department, the money spent on these water tanks could not be put towards the repair or upgrading of the water pump that isn't working.

Also, I have been told that government aid in the form of farming equipment and supplies was given to many people. This is very helpful.

I don't know why, but when I left here six years ago, I had this strange feeling that some day, people would start to return to Rotuma after retirement, and low and behold, that is exactly what is going on!

The village of Tarsua is coming up nicely. There are a couple of the prefab houses up already, and a few more coming up in the near future. What a pleasant surprise to know that not only do they have the water running there, they are about to have electricity as well, courtesy of the new generator for Tuakai. This is wonderful. When we first got here, we saw some men from Tuakai digging to lay the power lines in Tarsua.

Now, an issue I wish to address with great seriousness--the Rotuma hospital. I just
happened to visit Dr. Ane, who is an incredible soul! Not only is she knowledgeable about medicine, she has demonstrated clearly where her heart is by how well the hospital is being run. I have noticed that there are needs where the hospital is concerned, and I would like to mention these. I know there are many requests for donations, and many respond by saying, "Let the people help themselves." Such attitudes are understandable, but there comes a time when those of us who are in a position to help should do what we can.

One example is the situation of the district health stations. Dr. Ane has had workshops to train and prepare district health workers so that people will not have to make costly trips to Ahau when basic help can be obtained from the health worker. The problem is that the health stations are in desperate need of supplies. I would like to ask that people whose families are from the different districts, especially (but not limited to) those of you in the health profession, to please consider donating to such a worthy cause, in funds or in kind.

It was awesome to see the help that has already been donated to the hospital. Diagnostic equipment is allowing blood tests to be done that formerly had to be sent to Suva. This saves a lot of time. Other equipment has also been donated (all donations are immeasurably appreciated; however, some of the donated equipment was not usable here in Rotuma because of incompatibility with Rotuma's electric power supply).

Here is a short list of some of the hospital's current needs:

1. First aid supplies for the health workers' stations in each district. As mentioned, this could be in kind or in funds. Did you know that a trip to Ahau could cost a family at least ten dollars? The money would be better spent to meet basic needs.

2. Plumbing for patient bathrooms. When I was left here six years ago this was a problem and it still is. We are talking basic improvements; they are repeatedly backing up. These facilities are used by patients and are a necessity. Even the toilet seats need to be replaced--not a pleasant subject, I agree, but these are so necessary for the patients.

3. Cleaning supplies for the hospital. This may sound like such a silly little thing, but what I see are hospital staff stretching the "elasticity" of every little thing they have to the maximum stretching point..

4. Seats for the waiting area. Fridays are particularly rough. This is when the bus makes a round island trip to bring everyone to the hospital. People are sitting all over the floors, where there is not really enough room, and many of these are sick people who could use the comfort of the chairs.

Why don't they just ask the government, you ask? Well, the fact is that the government has been petitioned regarding these things, and for a long time. There are just too many places to be helped, and not enough money to meet all the needs. If you think that you could possibly help to supply any of the above-mentioned items, please send your contributions directly to Dr. Ane Atalifo at Rotuma Hospital. Not only will your donations be acknowledged, they will be accounted for. All donations, no matter how large or small, would be greatly appreciated.

There are a lot of big things that are needed, but I won't get into details about that. It seems that there are so many huge requests. I know, for example, an emergency vehicle is needed for the doctor to make urgent visits to sick patients who are unable to get to Ahau. There seems to be an endless list.

For the wonderful, generous donations that many of you have already sent, all of us here in Rotuma send our heartfelt thanks. I hope you will forgive me for taking the liberty of sharing with you my thoughts about urgent needs that remain to be satisfied.

From Elisapeti Inia in Suva (31 July 2003, posted 8 August)

I am still in Suva and hope to go on Cagi mai Ba on Saturday, 2nd August. We went aboard Bulou ni Ceva on 19 July and were about to leave when the news went around "Engine ta raksa'ia." Some of us went back home but most people slept on board. For two weeks we waited for the engine to be repaired; it seems like it will be another two weeks. I hear the Cagi mai Ba will come to the rescue.

The Methodist Conference in Suva starts on 15 August and our Motusa choir is waiting for the boat to bring them over. This year I have to skip it so that I can take up my kindy for the last term of the year.

From Sofia Tekela-Smith in Auckland (7 August 2003)

I went off in late May to Berlin for a show at the "In Transit-Nothing to Declare" Arts Festival at the House of Global Cultures. It was a whole lot of fun as I was working with fa'afifine from Samoa and New Zealand. Our show was called Island Divas. I was the "adorner" and wardrobe mistress as well as having a wee part in the actual show. I left them and travelled on with my sister through Italy to Rome, Firenze, Cinque Terra, and then Venezia to see the Venice Biennale. Then off I went to Paris to meet some friends and prepare myself for my artist's talk at the British Museum conference called "Clothing the Pacific." That was great. While there I met Vili Hereniko, who was also a speaker. My session followed Vili's so you can imagine my nerves. But the great thing was having two Rotumans present at once. As they say in the hip-hop world of Polynesia, "Rotuma Represent!"

Two days after I returned to Auckland, John Pule, our son Nava, and I went to Rarotonga, (where John taught an art workshop). Nava and I made ourselves at home on Muri beach, which reminded me a lot of Rotuma. I met up with Linda, a Rotuman girl who introduced us to the Rotumans living and working in Raro (apparently there are 21). They had a fundraising night at the Coco Bar, which involved lots of dancing and laughing. We were invited to a beautiful lunch, which of course went on all afternoon and well into the evening, feeding us copious amounts of delicious food including fekei. and drinking kava. . . what a treat! It is always exciting to meet Rotumans while travelling. Photos.

Here are 3 images of a show I had in April at Te Tuhi-The Mark Art Gallery (my first solo exhibition at a Public Art Gallery).

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