Story by Tommy Esau, Research worker
In July 2015 a group of researchers from Atoifi Hospital, Kwaio chiefs and community leaders and Dr David MacLaren from James Cook University spent a week at Kwainaa ‘isi Cultural Centre to write the final report for our Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) medicinal plants project. The time together was an excellent opportunity to share the group success of the medicinal plants project. Capacity has been built within the group to produce videos, booklets and collect botanical specimens in a way that respects Kwaio people and Kwaio culture.
The chiefs, women and youth who live in the mountains and follow a traditional customs were very pleased to see their work in videos and booklet. In the meeting, Dr David Maclaren highlighted the success of the project including how skills had been learned about financial and organisational management. Discussion then progressed with the group, with many ideas and suggestions for submitting a new application to CEPF for the next round of support. These strategic discussions also built more capacity about how to link with external organisations who are able to support such grass-roots projects. Among the group were women, children, youths and different tribes from the mountains suggesting strategic plans and understanding about the future directions were prioritised by many people.
To celebrate the success of the project and the Solomon Islands Independence Anniversary, the group organised a programme on Independence Day, with a parade, flag rising, speeches, cultural performance. The day ended with a traditional feast. It was indeed a breakthrough for the Kwainaa ‘isi Cultural Centre to organise such event and be part of the country’s independence celebration. An eye witness of the program said this is the first time since the country gained its independence that the people in the Kwaio mountains had officially commemorated the country’s Independence with such celebrations.
According to Chief Waneagea “this event was one of the highlights in our history in the mountains. This marks not only the independence celebration but also the success of our first medicinal plants project.” He said we look forward for more events like this in the future and anticipate working with the CEPF team well into the future.
For more information, please email Tommy Esau: firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos: Chief Waneagea leading panpipers for a cultural performance