Carpentry skills training empowers four Bua women

In a first for Votua Village in Lekutu District in Bua, four women were among 25 participants in a two-week carpentry skills training that were normally reserved for the men of the village, an opportunity that they are relishing in view of the work prospects it opens up for them

Seravina Masitabua, 28, Melaia Tabuamotu, 32, Lusiana Kelera, 50, and Nunia Loga, 24 were part of the training organised by the Ministry of Forestry.

Along with 21 men from the village, they were taught the mechanics of building cyclone-proof houses, a skill that will not only help them protect their loved ones ahead of the oncoming tropical cyclone season but also boosts their employability.

For Votua village resident Kelera, her age and her gender was an issue for her but encouragement by fellow villagers to participate in the training provided by carpenters from the Ministry of Forestry enabled her to take a chance.

“The two-week training was an eye-opener for me and I am very grateful that I took part,” she said.

Fellow villager Loga said the training was a good learning experience for her even though she thinks more time could have been allocated instead of the two-week time frame.

“I enjoyed the training very much but I think they should extend it to three weeks or even a month considering the number of participants outweighed the two carpenters,” Loga said.

Hearing about the carpentry skills training through word-of-mouth from villagers motivated Seravina to participate.

“I took carpentry skills training at Australian Pacific Training Coalition (APTC) last year before coming to the village and what I learnt here during the two weeks further enhanced the knowledge,” Masitabua said.

“Upon returning to the village, I never thought of putting my carpentry skills to good use but after this training and with my fellow female colleagues I want to pursue my skills further and maybe the four of us can start our own carpentry business.”

For Tabuamotu, being allowed by village elders to participate in the training boosted her morale during the two-week training.

“Times are changing and I am grateful village elders have allowed the four of us to take part in the training as this never happened before,” Tabuamotu said.

“I am also grateful to the two carpenters from the Ministry of Forestry for their patience in teaching us – especially the four of us and yes we will definitely put our skills to good use as we will assist other villagers in rebuilding their homes.”

The two-week training is part of the Housing Rehabilitation Project facilitated by the Ministry of Forestry in Vanua Levu so that people Fijians are empowered with skills to build back better.

Started after the back-back tropical cyclones that struck Fiji in April last year, the Housing Rehabilitation Project team have so far rebuilt more than 70 partially damaged homes in Vanua Levu and look forward to the support of villagers like Masitabua, Tabuamotu, Kelera and Loga to put their skills to good use and assist Government in building other partially or fully damaged homes in the province of Bua.

Caption (From left-right): Seravina, Lusiana, Nunia and Melaia are ready to put their new skills to good use. This photo was taken prior to COVID-19 restrictions were implemented in the North.

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