Fiji Barefoot Collection (Manta & Kuata) - Staff Relief Fund

Fiji Barefoot Collection (Manta & Kuata) - Staff Relief Fund

From Rick Ryan

Our TARGET is to raise $10,000 by Christmas: All funds go to Fijian employees & families of Barefoot Collection (Manta & Kuata) Yasawa Islands, Fiji affected by the shutdown of tourism & loss of work & wages due to COVID

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Recent Updates

Update #6

18 days ago

Updates from Barefoot Manta Marine Protected Area (MPA):

The last few months have been very positive in terms of protection and management of the reef. The current fish wardens (Tai Sami and Tai Buli) haven't had to ward off any fishing activity for over a month, which implies that efforts earlier in the season had far-reaching benefits. The lads still patrol the reef and keep a lookout, but everything is going well for the meantime.

There have also been recent discussions with some of the senior chiefs of the villages, in particular Tui Naviti (the head chief of all the villages on Naviti and the surrounding islands), regarding the management of our reef. Tui Naviti has apparently fully endorsed this locally managed MPA, and even came to the island to visit Tai Sami and Tai Buli. They both said he was very happy with everything.

The conservation team on the island have been developing a new coral out-planting technique. They have been using a mixture of plaster and cement to make little balls which can be used to fix already grown coral colonies to the reef. The corals used are colonies that have become detached from the reef, and so far over 100 corals have been reattached using this new technique. As usual, the reef is extremely healthy, with lots of fish life and a very high coral biodiversity.

On the 7th and 8th of November, we saw coral spawning occur on the reef. Billions of mini pink spheres floated to the surface in a snowstorm of reproductive synergy. These dates exactly matched the spawning of 2019 in terms of the November lunar cycle, showing just how fascinating corals can be!

vinaka vakalevu
Rob Macfarlane
(Barefoot Manta marine scientist)
#SupportBarefootStaffFiji #BarefootManta

More Info

Although everyone around the world has been affected by COVID, some people have been affected more than others. 

This is truly the case when we compare the lives of women and men employed by the 'Barefoot Collection' in Fiji with that of the many tourist's who have experienced a big BULA from Barefoot Manta and Barefoot Kuata staff.

In addition to the 1000's of families and independent travellers who have stayed at Barefoot Manta or Kuata so have 100s of RMIT University staff and students as part of the Self-sufficiency and Sustainability in remote South Pacific islands (Fiji) study tour program.

The funds that tourism and these University study tours inject into the local economy is substantial and has (had) a direct impact on many peoples standard of living including putting food on the table, access to health care and supporting other basic living costs.

Due to COVID, RMIT was able to run only 1 study tour before Barefoot Manta and Barefoot Kuata were forced to close on 22 March 2020.

Unfortunately, this means dozens of RMIT students will not experience Fijian hospitality and here a joyous BULA! or sincere Vinaka! which those who have been stayed at Barefoot Manta and Kuata know and remember so well. But of far more consequence, is the impact on those employed in at Barefoot Manta & Kuata whose income was devastated when tourism STOPED.

Although the Barefoot Collection has retained a skeleton staff and is committed to supporting the local community, it can't sustain pre-covid19 levels without tourism. Consequently, Barefoot staff such those who work in the kitchen, the restaurant, in entertainment and housekeeping, as well as maintenance workers, gardeners, boat captains and dive shop staff - those you see below - have all been affected. Share your memories of Barefoot Manta & Kuata here

This relief fund has been set up so we can show the friends we made at Barefoot Manta & Kuata that we care. 

So please give what you can perhaps $20 or $50 if you are also struggling or more if you have retained your job. 

Please just give what you can: 100% of funds raised will go to the employees of Barefoot Manta & Kauta. (Less Fundly Fees of 7.8% + $.30 per gift)

Read more about the impact of COOVID on Fijian tourism:

Quotes from RMIT students who participated in the RMIT University, Self-sufficiency and Sustainability in remote South Pacific islands (Fiji) study tour program:

  • It definitely made me remember how much I enjoy working with people on social issues, and how I can use my privilege to help those who are not as fortunate.
  • As a result of this visit, I have gained a broader perspective of education. I have gained greater understanding and appreciation for the challenges that the Fijian teachers face on a daily basis, particularly in terms of the environment and resources. This has motivated me to consider how we can best use the resources we have in Australia to help.
  • The staff at Barefoot Manta were great and helped us out lots and taught us lots about water issues in Fiji and other interesting things relevant to the island and Fiji.
  • The staff at Barefoot Manta were incredibly welcoming and took every chance to get involved with us regardless if it was general discussion or talk related to our projects. Without the Barefoot Manta staff, I wouldn't have been able to obtain the quantity and quality of information that I did.
  • Staff at Barefoot Manta and Barefoot Kuata are mostly the locals, these people and our relationship with them is invaluable. All staff were fantastic.
  • The staff were very friendly and helpful they are excited to see changes and sustainability efforts on the island and they were quick to assist us with any requirements such as back of the house tours, trips to locations to be studied, and providing time-saving information that can tremendously help with my project.
  • The cultural differences and the perspectives of the Fijian people give an alternative view on the world that has caused me to reflect on the way I act in my own life.
  • It has inspired me to be the best educator I can be and further develop my ability. (I would like) to go back to Fiji and develop teaching relationships to benefit the communities.
  • The study tour has made me aware of the things we take for granted and reminded me of the simple pleasures we often forget.

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Rick Ryan posted a new update:
18 days ago

Update #7

Updates from Barefoot Manta Marine Protected Area (MPA):

The last few months have been very positive in terms of protection and management of the reef. The current fish wardens (Tai Sami and Tai Buli) haven't had to ward off any fishing activity for over a month, which implies that efforts earlier in the season had far-reaching benefits. The lads still patrol the reef and keep a lookout, but everything is going well for the meantime.

There have also been recent discussions with some of the senior chiefs of the villages, in particular Tui Naviti (the head chief of all the villages on Naviti and the surrounding islands), regarding the management of our reef. Tui Naviti has apparently fully endorsed this locally managed MPA, and even came to the island to visit Tai Sami and Tai Buli. They both said he was very happy with everything.

The conservation team on the island have been developing a new coral out-planting technique. They have been using a mixture of plaster and cement to make little balls which can be used to fix already grown coral colonies to the reef. The corals used are colonies that have become detached from the reef, and so far over 100 corals have been reattached using this new technique. As usual, the reef is extremely healthy, with lots of fish life and a very high coral biodiversity.

On the 7th and 8th of November, we saw coral spawning occur on the reef. Billions of mini pink spheres floated to the surface in a snowstorm of reproductive synergy. These dates exactly matched the spawning of 2019 in terms of the November lunar cycle, showing just how fascinating corals can be!

vinaka vakalevu
Rob Macfarlane
(Barefoot Manta marine scientist)
#SupportBarefootStaffFiji #BarefootManta

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Rick Ryan posted a new update:
about 1 month ago

Update #6

Bula everyone, Please see attached a report Rob Macfarlane (#BarefootManta Marine Biologist) made to summarise the conservation and monitoring conducted on the reefs around Barefoot Manta - by Barefoot staff with #RMITUniversity staff & students.

As Rob points out, this is as further evidence that the protection by the fish wardens employed via the https://fundly.com/fiji-barefoot-staff-relief-fund #SupportBarefootStaffFiji is working.

View report here:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1-QmJq7wRi25rMKiiTF3BuWcLEPYg5Pnk/view?usp=sharing

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Rick Ryan posted a new update:
2 months ago

Update #5

Bula to all supporters of Barefoot Collection staff and families. Well, your donation has been delivered and Mauira village families are very grateful.

BUT: we need to do more - so please share this with your friends, colleagues, family and all social networks. Show them what has been achieved and STRONGLY encourage them to donate, every $20, or $50 or $100 makes a difference.

My aim is to raise another $3000 by December so we can send another donation for Christmas - and you are now duly enlisted to the FIJI BAREFOOT COLLECTION STAFF (and their families) FUNDRAISING TEAM.

So, Rob organised the purchase, transportation and deliver of your donation - watch the video of this event here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DabWlvKhQLI

Please read this email I received from Rob about the day when your donation was delivered:

-------------------------------------
Hi Rick,

So debrief from the food donation delivery:

The food rations were purchased by our mainland staff and loaded onto the barge on Friday the 18th of September. We collected the food from the barge at Barefoot around lunchtime and unloaded to the island. We then reloaded the boat and departed for Muaira around 3 pm. Upon arrival loads of kids came to greet us and bit by bit some of the younger lads and older ladies came to help unload the packages and to carry them to the community hall (most of the adult men were working in the farms).

Once all the packages were stacked in the community centre, I read out a speech (see below), both in English and Fijian (Seini translated for me). Then the rations were allocated to each household and distributed out. Tai Sami then conducted the prayer portion of the Sevu Sevu ceremony. After this one older lady was designated to say thank you on behalf of the village and she shared a very touching message of gratitude.

While this was all happening the elder gentlemen started to assemble and arrive bit by bit. The kava was pounded and then bowls were shared to continue the Sevu Sevu.

I was then able to discuss my intentions to return for the water quality testing and to update the village elders on the health of the reef in a bit more detail. I also repeated the speech in Fijian once more, as many of the men weren't present for the initial delivering. Again there were many sincere messages of thanks of gratitude.

In the days following Tai Sami informed me how happy everyone was. It was a real privilege to be present to deliver the food, and I can tell that it has made a real difference to this community.

Thank you so much to everyone who has donated. It has taken some time, but that is sometimes the way these things progress in this part of the world. On behalf of Barefoot and the local community, I would like to say a huge Vinaka to all who have contributed.

Warmest regards,

Rob

Speech in English:

To the people of Muaira village,

As many of you will know, RMIT University in Melbourne conducted a fundraiser earlier this year. Many students and staff have contributed, and Rick Ryan, who was in charge of the fundraising, was able to transfer the money about a month ago. After contacting various suppliers to find the best deal, we have finally been able to purchase the following groceries: flour, sugar, tea, rice, soya bean oil, and noodles.

On behalf of Rick, RMIT, Reef Safari and the Barefoot Collection, I would like to extend this donation to you, the village of Muaira, and we hope that this will be able to help make these tough times go slightly easier for you all.

In the coming weeks and months, I will also be coming back to the island to continue the project on drinking water that RMIT has been running for the last few years. They can’t send their students right now with the borders closed, so I will be doing it for them. I need to do tests on the water tanks and the spring, and then maybe use some chlorine to treat contaminated sources. So you will all be seeing much more of me in the future.

God bless you all and lots of love!

Vinaka,
Ropate

Speech in Fijian:

Ni sa bula saka na veiwekani e Muaira.

Me vaka o ni sa kila oti, e ratou a cakava e dua na kumuni sede ko iratou na RMIT University mai Ositerelia e na vica na vula sa oti, ni mai yaco na leqa ni COVID-19. O Rick Ryan, na turaga ka dau veikau mai vei ira na gone vuli mai na RMIT University a liutaka na kumuni lavo o ya. E na vula sa oti, a va’kauta mai o Rick Ryan na i lavo, ka keitou qai mai sasaga taka na i vakailesilesi ni nodatou kabani na kena voli na falawa, suka, ti, raisi, waiwai kei na noodles.

E na vukudratou o Rick Ryan, na RMIT University, Reef Safari kei na nodatou kabani na Barefoot Collection, au mai matataki iratou tiko me’u mai solia e dua na i loloma lailai vei kemuni na veiwekani. Sa neitou i vakanunui ni na bau dua na sala ni veivuke lailai vei kemuni e na gauna dredre e da sotava taucoko tiko qo.

E na vei vula sa tu mai, au na lesu tiko mai vei kemuni meu na mai tomana tiko na project ni varautaki ni wai ni gunu ka sa mai cicivaka tiko na RMIT e na vica na yabaki sa oti. Ni se sega tiko ni rawa ni ra tadu mai na gonevuli ni RMIT e na kena se dredre tiko na veitosoyaki, au sa na sosomi taki ira tiko. Au na mai cakava tiko na kena dikevi na wai e na loma ni vei taqe ni wai, kei na wai vure, kau na vakayagataka talega na chlorine kevaka e so na wai e gadrevi me vakasavasavataki. Au mai kerea kina na nomuni veivosoti ni sa sega ni otioti ni nomuni na raici au nikua, baleta ni’u na lesu tikoga mai.

Sa noqu i nuinui ni na vakaloutaki keda vata tiko na Turaga, ka sa soli tiko na kakana lailai qo e na yalo loloma.

Vinaka saka vakalevu.

Ropate

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Rick Ryan posted a new update:
2 months ago

Update #4

Hi everyone, here is another update on what is being achieved because of your donation, please remember to share this post and ask friends to donate here https://fundly.com/fiji-barefoot-staff-relief-fund/dash so this good work can continue.
-------------------------------------------------------------
Hi Rick, Just wanted to give you an update on how the donation is being distributed.

1) I have all the funds allocated to assist Tai Sami and co as fish wardens with me on the island. I will be providing a flat weekly rate at the beginning of each week, then at the end of each week I will be providing an additional bonus if there has been no fishing/poaching.

I have attached a photo of Tai Sami and his son Pita, who have both been the main two individuals enforcing the protection at Drawaqa over the past two months. The money provided to the fish wardens is roughly the equivalent to 65 parrotfish or surgeonfish per week (depending on which market you look in). Due to the protection, our reef has a very high abundance of these grazing species, and this has allowed the coral to thrive. As well as the % coral cover being extremely high, there is also very high species diversity. This reef is a spawning centre and will provide coral larvae of multiple species to settle on nearby reefs after future spawning events. Please see the following video to get a visual understanding of how healthy the reef is currently looking:

This donation from the RMIT University Self-sufficiency and Sustainability in remote South Pacific islands (Fiji) team https://outbound.rmit.edu.au/index.cfm?FuseAction=Programs.ViewProgramAngular&id=11601 via the Fiji Barefoot Collection (Manta & Kuata) - Staff Relief Fund is acting as a substitute means of sustenance for the local community and it will have far-reaching benefits to the natural ecosystems of the surrounding area. Currently we have enough funds for 10 weeks. If you feel that people might want to continue to donate, then there is tangible proof that their money is benefiting the local community and the reef.

2) In terms of the groceries, these have been purchased and will be delivered to the island on Friday. Stand by for lots of photos. Will send a follow up email after everything has been provided.

Thanks a lot once again. Finally getting there!

Vinaka,
Rob Macfarlane
(Barefoot Manta, Marine Biologist)
https://www.facebook.com/BarefootMantaIsland/
https://barefootmantafiji.com/
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#SupportBarefootStaffFiji
#barefootmanta
#barefootmantaisland
#barefootkuata
#barefootkuataisland
https://www.facebook.com/Fiji-Barefoot-Manta-Kuata-Staff-Relief-Fund-101026938279915

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Rick Ryan posted a new update:
4 months ago

Update #2

Hi everyone, well it's taken a while, but we have finally been able to transfer the funds raised to Fiji so that it can start to be disbursed from next week.

That said this hasn't held up one of the key objectives, being the of employment of 2 Barefoot staff as Local Marine Protected Area Wardens. I will be posting more details about this extremely important initiative next week (as it not only pays wages now, it also contributes to protecting a vital local employment/income generation source - and the environment - for the future) as well as confirmation of food packages (essentials) being delivered to families of Barefoot workers.

So once again, thank you so much for your generous donations, I know it has meant a great deal (both your donations and your thoughtfulness) to everyone at the Barefoot Collection.

BUT, with COVID showing little sign of abating in Australia, these funds and any more we can raise are so important - so once again I ask you to please share this post and website with ALL your friends and family and donate what you can, be it $20, $50, $100 more - every donation helps!!l

Image care of Barefoot Marine Scientist, Rob Macfarlane: Showing one of the Marine Protected Area marker buoys, Rob reported in mid-May that ".. we have installed some MPA marker buoys to indicate the boundaries of the no fish zone. Since lockdown, there has been a slight increase in the amount of fishing, 12 recorded incidences so far (more than all of the entirety of 2019); mostly spear fishing, but some line casting and one sweep with a seine net. The guys on the island who are in charge of enforcing the protection have been mostly effective at sending the boats elsewhere, but the addition of these buoys will hopefully add an air of ‘official-ness’ to protection status. Their installation was requested by Tai Semisi, and has been approved by Tui Naviti.

#SupportBarefootStaffFiji
#barefootmanta
#barefootmantaisland
#barefootkuata
#barefootkuataisland
https://www.facebook.com/Fiji-Barefoot-Manta-Kuata-Staff-Relief-Fund-101026938279915

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Rick Ryan posted a new update:
7 months ago

Update #1

Hi everyone, thanks so much to all of you who have donated and or shared our posts to #SupportBarefootStaffFiji

So far we have raised nearly $3000 - as of today - but we can still reach our goal of $5000.

Please share this post (paste into your personal FB page, twitter, Linked-In, etc. to help us reach our goal of $5000

https://fundly.com/fiji-barefoot-staff-relief-fund
#barefootmanta
#barefootmantaisland
#barefootkuata
#barefootkuataisland
https://www.facebook.com/Fiji-Barefoot-Manta-Kuata-Staff-Relief-Fund-101026938279915

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/ #SupportBarefootStaffFiji