Spreading our wings

The book club has grown in popularity among the children. Picture: SUPPLIED

IT has been a busy month at Vunilagi Book Club. Some of our most recent activities have gone beyond books and reading, and stretched towards an advocacy workshop at the University of the South Pacific, as well as a rugby clinic during the school holidays for three of our lucky boys – we are it seems, beginning to spread our wings.

On Saturday, August 11, Akanisi Draniliga, Sanjana Wati, Dwenstika Kumar, Mikaele Suka, Dilena Tinai, and Sereana Silaitoga took part in a Youth Advocacy Workshop which was facilitated by Elisha Bano and her team at ACT IT Network.

Our six youths participated actively during the sessions and we were so proud of them when they made presentations alongside other young people in their teams. It was the first time for our group of six to engage extensively with these topics and as I spoke to a few of them that day, they began to share how the workshop was challenging and shaping some of their thoughts.

Akanisi Draniliga, who is one of Vunilagi’s most active volunteers and a member of the Nanuku community commented on what she had learned from the workshop,

“I learnt that if I want to achieve something I must move out of my comfort zone and challenge myself. I must also speak up about injustices and not be quiet, because if I am silent about an issue affecting me or my friend, then nothing will change. I met a lot of other young people at the workshop who were so smart and talented, it taught me that we as young people have so many great things to offer in our communities. I also learned that peace in the world must first come from having peace within ourselves.”

All six participants received their certificates from the ACT IT Network this past weekend – Congratulations guys.

Also during the holidays, three of our young boys from Nanuku participated in a rugby clinic that was organised by Wakana Rugby.

Elenoa Fuli and her team generously sponsored the boys from Vunilagi to spend a morning playing rugby with experienced trainers and professional coach and former Fiji representative, Saiasi Fuli.

Our boys were elated to have trained at the clinic with Mr Fuli and also enjoyed making new friends in the process.

I look forward to collaborating further with Wakana Rugby and hope that some of the trainers and coaches will join us soon for a reading session to promote literacy in Fiji and show young boys that they can play rugby and read too.

As members of Vunilagi prepared to return to school this week a reading session was held in Nanuku last Saturday, August 25.

We started at an earlier time of 11am and had a bit of a slow start with 20 children in attendance, however, our final count reached 29 by the time we finished reading.

And although we were a little short on volunteers, several young women from Nanuku showed up to help with the load and we were very grateful – thank you, ladies.

Thank you to all the people who continue to help Vunilagi Book Club through this first year of reading. We have started out small but our spirit is strong and I for one am so proud of all those who continue to be involved.

n Mariana Waqa is the founder of Vunilagi Book Club.