A DELEGATION from the ‘Reweaving the Ecological Mat’ project, Ministry of Culture and Tourism, non-government organisation and other stakeholders has visited Maravovo community over the weekend.
Maravovo community is located North-west of the Guadalcanal island – which hosts the Solomon Islands capital, Honiara.
During the meeting, Rusinal Nabouniu the Communication officer for the project told the community that this project is not a new thing but its all about preserving or reviving our past traditional ways of life.
She described the past ways of life and the current as a broken mat that needs to be mended.
“We come to realize that our way (mat) of lives before is broken and we need to reweave them.
“We understand, life before is full of respect, love and everything made us Melanesian happy people,” Ms Nabouniu said.
Today, this is no longer the case and so we would like to share this with you so that you come on board let us revive our traditional knowledge and preserve them, she added.
Speaking at the dialogue, Maravovo Chief Noel Lotaraom said indeed we have lost our traditional ways of living and way of life.
He has also agreed with the statement ‘our way of life before is broken and we need to reweave it again’.
“Recently I was in tears when I saw the stream where I used to enjoy bathing inside before was covered in a Milo-like colour due to the logging operations upstream.
“This has destroyed our natural environment and very soon we will have nothing left for our next generation to enjoy like in the past,” Chief Lotaraom said.
He added that something must be done as the natural environment and the original ways of life in the village is slowly taken away by the different influences that are present today.
Authorities are becoming powerless and have failed to act.
A mother from the north-west Guadalcanal community, Mildred Parabau also compared that life these days is harder than their experienced before.
“These days if you don’t give any money to your children, they will not want to go to school,” Mrs Parabau said.
She added that this is different from their times in the past, where kids just packed their foods in their bags and head to the school.
Another woman Jessy Teteo also contributed that the generations at the present time is totally different.
“They don’t have any respect towards the environment, parents, chiefs and elders of the community.
“I believe that this is where it is important for this project to be established here so that locals can come to realize where they went wrong,” Ms Teteo said.
Meanwhile, Ms Nabouniu said that this is not a new thing as there is a similar situation everywhere in the world.
“We are here mainly just to teach you how to reweaving our mats. The way of life before is like a mat and yes it is broken and we need to reweave it.
“Our people before are living with nature and full of respect in the communities. They live in harmony and are enjoying life.
“This is the kind of life that we should preserve rather than just letting it go,” Ms Nabouniu said.
Ms Nabouniu stated that she is happy to start the project with Maravovo community.
“We will expand the project to other provinces as soon as possible.”
The project is partly a continuation of the Ecumenical Research Project (ERP) that is mostly funded by BfdW with small financial support from the Methodist church in Great Britain and EMW in Germany.
It takes into account the key issues from the ERP project mainly ecumenical leadership; active and meaningful cooperation (national and regionally), the need to review the mission mandate of the churches on development, its content and strategies and their active engagement with ecological and developmental issues of their people.
The preliminary results of the project present striking gaps both on country specifics and at the regional level on the lack of cooperation on mission work between the churches especially to address the developmental challenges of their people.
Three of these contributing issues to this lack of ecumenical relations and cooperation on mission work are;
· Lack of Christian based ecological framework that would enable them to confidently engage with their country specific and regional developmental issues;
· Lack of an ecumenical leadership formation and mentoring to conceive of a liberating and redemptive vision for collaboration on developmental and social justice issue;
· Lack of participation of church members, particularly the youth and women, in ecumenical activities on development and the ecology which in part is a consequence of the absence of ecumenical leadership and vision.
Underpinning these is the fact that most churches are still in the era of the early missionaries where engagement in developmental issues is not part of their faith formation or theological training.
Such a view of engagement in development and its grounding, rules out the engagement with society on development and ecological issues such as poverty alleviation, social and economic justice, peace and conflict, violence against, land and sea bed mining, and environmental degradation.
The project and its activities are organised around the need for the churches to address the now recognised ecological crisis from the health situation of their people to the degradation of the environment that is emerging in the pacific region.
This issue is the catalyst to address the main outcomes of the ERP as mentioned above.
This project is designed by the Institute for Mission and Research from the pacific theological college.
Representatives from Anglican church of Melanesian, Media, Ministry of culture and tourism and none-government organisation also join the group.
By LESLEY SANGA