Find yourself for happiness

INSPIRATION can come in many forms.

Most of the time, the lives of those who have faced numerous obstacles are considered wholly inspiring.

It was with this vision that the Genda Project was born. A Fijian initiative, The Genda Project aims to create spaces and platforms for storytelling and ideas sharing via alternative media.

And having hosted five events so far, the platform is projected to grow in the years to come. This is the vision of curator Sharon Narayan.

Last week, the event was held in Lautoka, which a record number of people attended.

Ms Narayan says even though the Live Talks concept in Fiji is relatively new, the event is gathering momentum.

“Live Talks is a new concept for Fiji, especially for Lautoka, where something like this has been held for the first time and it was great to see people of Lautoka turn up and try something new.

“From all our five talks to date, this was the largest turnout we’ve had, even bigger than Suva! It definitely was a success.”

Eight speakers were invited to tell their stories and the topics ranged from personal experiences on life, business, politics, sports, family, grief, sexuality and art.

“The core message that afternoon was for people to ‘tell your story’, especially women. Our core objective for the Genda Project is to inspire and motivate people to ‘find themselves’ and seek happiness.

“As a curator and storyteller, I believe when we define and stand our ground as who we truly are and tell our story, we empower others to find their voices in our narratives.

“I think our theme for Genda Connections Lautoka, Defining what Happiness & Success mean for Fijian Women, was articulated very well by all eight of our speakers.

“The takeaway from the event is that there is no one definition of what success and happiness can mean. It means different things to different people and one must endeavour and seek in life, what makes you happy.”

With the success of the inaugural event in Lautoka, organisers are now hoping to host a new GendaDISRUPT event.

“This is another talk platform of the Genda Project. While Genda Connections is where people share stories and experiences, GendaDISRUPT is where we open up conversations on more subject matters with industry talks.

“We had one earlier this year in Nadi with the tourism industry, which was a huge success so I am looking at curating similar kind of industry talks with other industries.”

The Genda Project usually organises three to four talks per year in different towns. However, this also depends largely on securing funding for talks from corporates in the form of sponsorship.

“As this is a new concept, many organisations don’t see any marketing and publicity benefits in our talks. However, there are organisations that understand the power of live talks and see our events as an extension to their corporate social responsibility.

“For that, I’m extremely grateful for the support of companies like AON, Bondwell Fiji and Jewels Fiji this year.

“I’m also thankful to companies who’ve pledged their in-kind support with their products for most of our talks including, Bhikabhai, P Meghji, FIJI Water, Pure Fiji, Paradise Beverages and Coca-Cola Amatil.

“People are starting to understand what our events will be all about. When we first started, we used to get feedback like ‘do you want us to pay money to listen to someone talk?’ But now, as soon as we announce our next talk, people are queuing up for tickets!

“I think people understand that coming to a Genda talk is an investment in themselves and something that will help them grow.”

She says the talks don’t just allow people a chance to find themselves. It has also become a platform to raise awareness on a number of issues.

“Over the last one year and eight months, we’ve opened up conversations on our platforms that normally would be a taboo subject or something people are shy to talk about.

“I think we are challenging stereotypes and certain perceptions of things in our society. We are definitely getting people to venture out of their comfort zones and attend our talks. We are pushing our audiences to think outside the box, question themselves, and question others on their choices and lifestyles.

“I’d like to think individuals who’ve been to our events genuinely do go home and try to strive for more personal satisfaction in their lives.”

The ticket holders to Genda Connections Lautoka also experienced a digital photography exhibition.

The Genda Project in collaboration with the National Archives of Fiji presented a collection of photographs on the theme “Nurture Our Knowledge, Nurture Our Women” which featured a collection of black and white photographs of Fiji’s women past in professional and technical roles.

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