SHE accompanied her mother to Fiji from the Solomon Islands when she was 13 and spent two years in Suva, attending St Anne’s Primary School and St Joseph’s Secondary School.
What Christina Ora did not envision was that spending time in Fiji would completely change the course of her life.
The 22-year-old said taking part in public speaking competitions and being challenged by the curriculum were enough to bolster her confidence to not only voice her opinions as a young adult, but also gave her the strength to stand up for what she believed in.
She is now a youth worker with the Honiara Youth Council and was fortnight ago at the Pacific Partnerships to Strengthen Gender, Climate Change Response and Sustainable Development workshop in Nadi.
“I started doing the work I do now in climate change and young women in youth advocacy since I was 16,” she said.
“When I was in primary and early secondary school, I participated in a lot of public speaking programs.
“Back then, I saw these avenues as a way of gaining confidence and perfecting the basic skill of going in front of people and talking to them about issues that matter.”
Originally from the Western Province of Solomon Islands, Christina knows many ways in which she can help change the community for the better.
“At present I am with the Honiara Youth Council in collaboration with other groups back home and what we basically do is try and carry out programs that will be youth friendly and will include young people,” Christina said.
“We try to bring in a new twist on how we can engage young people and talk about their concerns. We have to be very creative and one of the ways in which we got young people to come together was by doing a flash mob dance.
“Young people have so many experiences and so many stories and I think decision makers need to hear those stories.
“We did that to coincide with themes for International Youth Day. Being at the workshop was a very rewarding experience for me and the people who have organised like Tarusila Bradburgh of the Pacific Youth Council, Noelene Nabulivou and Brigitte Leduc who were so welcoming.”
She says being at the workshop showed her young people, wherever they may be, face similar problems.
“I could really relate to the problems. We had a presentation from a professor in Bangladesh, who said when the floods in her country came and people had to be evacuated, they had evacuation centres but it wasn’t suitable for women.
“And I could think back to the flooding in Honiara in April and I remembered that when you want to help people after a disaster, you have to think beyond just the quick and easy solutions.
“You have to think about what is needed, how it can cater to the needs of both women and men. And the presentation showed how people did not have access to clean toilets and proper facilities.
“I was thinking back to the situation in our country after the disaster so I am looking forward to taking all that I have learnt here into consideration.”
Christina said women needed to be safe as they were prone to violence after disasters.
“After flooding in Solomon Islands, sexual violence even occurred at the evacuation centres. If I could take back the recommendations and see how I can channel those recommendations to the higher authorities, we can make the community much safer for women.”
Suva (Fiji Times)