Youths pave the way

Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism, Faiyaz Koya officiates at the opening of Silana Youth Eco Tourism project in Tailevu yesterday. Picture: JONA KONATACI

SLIGHTLY more than two years ago villagers of Silana in Sawakasa in Tailevu experienced the wrath of Tropical Cyclone Winston.

Thinking that all hell has broken lose after that devastation, the village youths have shown their resiliency and bounced back to life with the construction of three beautiful buildings known as the “Babale Bures”.

Active Silana Youth member Meli Rabele, 40, said in 2016 TC Winston devastated their village and left them with little hope of how to recover.

“We needed homes for ourselves but we also needed ‘bure’ in order for our long term partners Global Vision International (GVI) to be able to continue their work within the Dawasamu district,” Mr Rabele said.

In opening the Babale Bures yesterday, Minister for Industry, Trade, Tourism, Lands and Mineral Resources Faiyaz Koya said the eco-tourism project would lead to the generation of income for the youths of Silana Village.

“This project will provide an avenue for the youth of Silana to earn a livelihood for themselves and improve the standard of living of their families and the village,” Mr Koya said.

He said one of the key mandates for the ministry was to formulate and implement policies and strategies to facilitate the growth of the micro, small and medium enterprises sector or MSMEs.
“With a contribution of around 20 per cent to our gross domestic product (GDP), the MSME sector is an essential component of the Fijian economy.

“The MSME sector is therefore an important contributor to employment creation, income generation and poverty alleviation,” he said.

Mr Koya revealed that the total project cost of the project was $144,399 to which the Fijian Government, through the Integrated Human Resource Development Program (IHRDP) of the ministry contributed $53,771 and the community contributed $90,627 in cash and sweat equity in the construction of these bure.

“One unique aspect of this project is that while it belongs to the people of Silana, the bure is operated and managed by the youth in the community, whereby more than 20 youths have acquired life-long skills of constructing bure and also knowledge of setting up and managing a business,” Mr Koya said.

Mr Koya said that with the skills and knowledge acquired by the youths, they had an opportunity to graduate into job creation.

“Furthermore the Silana Youth Eco-Tourism project is an example of how a group can work together for the betterment of their community and yes, the youth play a crucial role in ensuring that growth is sustainable,” Mr Koya said.

“It is encouraging to note that the four bure are currently occupied by GVI for a period of three years.

“This ensures a steady income of $3333 a month. The income is used for development of the village, education of the children and savings which are kept at the Unit Trust of Fiji.”

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