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By Elenoa Lavetiviti
Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The Pacific Youth Festival is set to take place in Suva from July 11 to the 18th. Elenoa Lavetiviti, who was the lone disabled member of the Fiji youth

delegation to the last PYF in Tahiti in 2006, reports.

Bula again. A number of high level speakers are expected to participate in the festival.

Some are coming as plenary speakers and some are members of country delegations.

These include the President of East Timor and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Jose Ramos Horta and his participation is expected to be an inspiration to youth participants.

Also expected is the President of the Republic of Nauru, Marcus Stephens one of the youngest presidents in the Pacific if not the world.

If the information that Wikipedia ( has on Mr Stephens is anything to go by then I'm predicting his session will be a popular one.

This guy (pardon the youthy reference) is not just the President of Nauru, he looks after several government portfolios from Home Affairs, Phosphate Royalties Trust, Police, Prisons and Emergency Services and then the Public Service.

In his 39 years of living, he won seven gold medals and five silver medals at the Commonwealth Games as a weightlifter.

He has even played Australian Rules Football.

He has been a representative of the Nauruan government to the International Whaling Commission and sits on the Nauru Olympic Commission. I know most people will agree with me that my peers in Nauru have an exemplary leader to look up to.

And then there's Senator Francesca Semoso, the Deputy Speaker of Parliament for Bougainville, a Pacific parliamentary HIV and youth advocate/champ.

Her speech at the Pacific Regional Workshop on Advancing Women's Representation in Parliament in Rarotonga in 2006 should inspire women and girls alike particularly those who nurse dreams of making it into the political arena.

Like Semoso, I believe increasing the number of women in parliament will improve the quality of decisions that will be made something we could ponder on as we anticipate the 2014 elections date recently announced by the Prime Minister.

Another inspirational Pacific woman - Dame Carol Kidu will be here for PYF as well. Lady Kidu although Australian born is the first female cabinet minister in Papua New Guinea, serving, since 2002, as the Minister for Community Development.

She is recognised in the Pacific as a social worker particularly with a special focus on efforts against domestic violence, HIV/AIDS and women empowerment.

Earlier this year, she was given a French award for her work and continued commitment to alleviate discrimination against physically and mentally disabled women, girls and children.

My hat off to her for taking up our cause - the cause of the disabled community in PNG and the Pacific as a whole.

I will definitely make it my point to meet these inspirational leaders during the PYF and so should you.

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