The Tough Trek: Nakida’s Youth As­cend

For one to un­der­stand why this is so, you must first know its ge­o­graph­i­cal lo­ca­tion. Nakida Vil­lage is lo­cated in the in­te­rior of Viti Levu where the border of the three prov­inces - Tailevu, Naitasiri and Ra - meet

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Op­ti­mism and a can-do at­ti­tude is some­thing that keep youths of Nakida in the tik­ina of Nago­neni­colo in Naitasiri ac­tive.

Na gone ni colo in English trans­lates to ‘Chil­dren of the High­lands’ and youths of Nakida em­body this in spirit as their col­lec­tive ef­forts com­mand re­spect and gar­ners ad­mi­ra­tion for their com­mit­ment and de­ter­mi­na­tion. For one to un­der­stand why this is so, you must first know its ge­o­graph­i­cal lo­ca­tion. Nakida Vil­lage is lo­cated in the in­te­rior of Viti Levu where the border of the three prov­inces — Tailevu, Naitasiri and Ra — meet.

Nakida vil­lage was set­tled in 1965 as the then el­ders sought to utilise their va­cant land and, more im­por­tantly, be­cause dif­fer­ences had arisen within the vil­lage of Waibal­avu. It was where they had pre­vi­ously set­tled - a six hour trip by bili­bili (bam­boo raft) be­tween the pre­vi­ous and cur­rent sites. Though in­ac­ces­si­ble by road, the youths of this quaint vil­lage are de­ter­mined to make the best of life and ex­em­plify the age-old adage of ‘When life gives you lemons, make lemonade’. The trek to Nakida is chal­leng­ing to say the least. One has to scale rugged and tough ter­rain, hik­ing for five hours in heavy un­der­foot con­di­tions or rid­ing on horse­back for three hours. With yaqona as their main source of in­come, vil­lagers have to hike through the thick for­est be­fore hitch­ing a ride along the Kings High­way to sell their pro­duce at the Raki­raki mar­ket. As Nakida Youth Club pres­i­dent, Laise­nia Senokonoko, puts it in

iTaukei, “E sa ka ga ni vosota” (It’s all about re­silience). “The great­est, big­gest chal­lenge there is in­fra­struc­ture as our vil­lage is in­ac­ces­si­ble by road and the only means of trans­port for us is ei­ther by horse, foot or to travel down­stream by boat and bam­boo raft,” Mr Senokonoko said. “Our har­vest­ing sched­ule in­cludes one whole day of up­root­ing green yaqona plants and another whole day to trans­port our har­vest to the road­side to sell usu­ally leav­ing the vil­lage at around 5am,” he said. With the rev­enue col­lected from their yaqona sales, the youth club has man­aged to buy a three-tonne car­rier to help gen­er­ate added in­come for their cof­fers. They have high hopes to op­er­ate as a co-oper­a­tive ven­ture in five years and are fo­cus­ing on yaqona sales. “Our youths con­tinue to plant yaqona ev­ery month as it is our main source of in­come be­cause we hope to ren­o­vate our Church and con­struct the cat­e­chists’ house as well and if all things go ac­cord­ing to plan, we also hope to get piped wa­ter pumped straight to the vil­lage as part of our com­mu­nity project,” he said. “We have set up a hous­ing project in the vil­lage whereby all youths must have their own houses as we cut and rip our own tim­ber.

“This was all pos­si­ble through as­sis­tance from the Min­istry of Youth and Sports, through a do­nated chain­saw and an or­gan­ised saw­ing work­shop fa­cil­i­tated by Min­istry of Forestry of­fi­cials. “Al­most ev­ery month, 30 pieces of cor­ru­gated iron are trans­ported up to the vil­lage as who­ever can af­ford to buy them is en­cour­aged to do so.” Ac­cord­ing to Mr Senokonoko, the trans­porta­tion of the ma­te­rial is an ar­du­ous ex­er­cise in it­self as it takes 4 days in to­tal for the cor­ru­gated iron to reach their vil­lage. “The ma­te­rial is bought from Suva and usu­ally that takes a quar­ter of a day’s travel up to Na­maridrika where the ma­te­ri­als are dropped off.

“The rest of the day is usu­ally spent build­ing bam­boo rafts to carry the roof­ing ma­te­ri­als up­stream, as one raft can hold only 10 pieces and though all youths par­tic­i­pate in this task, it takes one whole day from Na­maridrika to reach Wairu­arua Vil­lage and another two days from Wairu­arua to Nakida. “This is the only way for us be­cause what other op­tions do we have? We choose to brave the el­e­ments be­cause this is the only way we can achieve any­thing and de­velop our com­mu­nity,” Mr Senokonoko said.

With the nu­mer­ous dif­fi­cul­ties and chal­lenges faced by this com­mu­nity, in­clud­ing a lack of proper in­fra­struc­ture, fa­tigued horses due to the stren­u­ous ar­du­ous trek to and from the vil­lage and Trop­i­cal Cy­clone Winston deal­ing a ma­jor blow by dev­as­tat­ing their homes and farms, the youth of Nakida re­main op­ti­mistic of their fu­ture in the hope of an eas­ier life.

“Af­ter Winston passed, we only had two houses stand­ing in the en­tire vil­lage and our crops and farms were se­verely dam­aged. Some of our youth lost hope and were bro­ken as their main source of in­come was dam­aged and we are try­ing to get these youth back to the vil­lage to help us re­build, but we re­main pos­i­tive of what­ever lies ahead for us,” said Mr Senokonoko. “We will con­tinue do­ing what we have been do­ing be­cause there is no room for com­pla­cency now; we do this for our chil­dren and their chil­dren be­cause we are mov­ing in one di­rec­tion, up.” It is no won­der then that with that right men­tal at­ti­tude ac­com­pa­nied by com­mend­able reporting and sound man­age­ment of their projects, Nakida youth club re­ceived the best youth club award for the Cen­tral Di­vi­sion dur­ing the 2015 Na­tional Youth and Sports Con­fer­ence as well as recog­ni­tion dur­ing the Re­serve Bank of Fiji 2015 Na­tional Mi­cro­fi­nance Awards. De­spite their hard­ships, Mr Senokonoko’s ad­vice to youths in

the coun­try is sim­ple, “Veilo­mani vakaukauwa, masu ka lotu vakaukauwa, ka caka­caka vata ka vakaukauwa.” (Care for each other earnestly, praise and wor­ship the Lord fer­vently and work hard to­gether).

As he puts it: “Suc­cess is guar­an­teed with com­mit­ment and de­ter­mi­na­tion,” which is ex­actly what keeps Nakida youth go­ing.”

Photo: Min­istry of Youth and Sports

Min­is­ter for Youth and Sports Laise­nia Tuitubou (wear­ing sun glasses in mid­dle), with the youths of Nakida in the tik­ina of Nago­neni­colo in Naitasiri.

Photo: Min­istry of Youth and Sports

Laise­nia Senokonoko (on horse­back) lead­ing a vis­it­ing del­e­ga­tion on their way to Nakida.

Photo: Min­istry of Youth and Sports

Youth of­fi­cer Cen­tral Pau­liasi Nasegai hand­ing over a chain­saw to the youths of Nakida.

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