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Address at the Messengers of Peace Networking Workshop at the TRANS International Hotel in Nadi on Monday 1 May 2017 at 9am

International representatives of the World Organization of the Scout Movement;
Facilitators of the Messengers of Peace Networking Workshop;
Executives of the Fiji National Scouts Associations;
Members of the National Scouting Organisations;
Invited Guests;
Ladies and Gentlemen.


I am honoured to be with you today as part of this part Movement and especially the vision espoused in the Messengers of Peace Initiative.

On behalf of Government, I wish to extend a warm welcome to all the international facilitators of this workshop. We welcome you to our shores and we hope you will get to enjoy our hospitality and weather.

Ladies and Gentlemen, as you know, the World Organization of the Scout Movement’s mission is “to contribute to the education of young people, through a value system based on the Scout Promise and Scout Law; and help build a better world where people are self-fulfilled as individuals and play a constructive role in society".

This indeed is a noble vision. I was trained as a Boys Scout myself and we were taught independence, leadership, to be constructively ambitious and to become independent learners with a moral code setting our eyes on positive goals. The Boys Scouts’ movement taught us hands-on practical methods of learning, which helped build our confidence.

Activities and games were always full of fun and provided an attractive way for us to develop skills; we also had regular contact with nature and the environment as the activities were mostly pursued in an outdoor setting. Those experiences are life-long memories.

Learning in small groups builds unity and loyalty amongst members. It also develops the characteristics of responsibility, self-reliance, self-confidence, and readiness, where Scouts learn teamwork and leadership skills, expands our horizons with these values early in life. These are values that you need to capture during the Scouts Peace Networking Workshop and convey to the youth.

Today, Scout leaders, most of whom are teachers from around Fiji, are gathered here to develop themselves as peace builders. You are part of a Global Network for action, moulding young people to become positive leaders of change in their community. This task is a humbling and daunting one demanding dedication and commitment from all leaders.

The global 10-year initiative of the World Organization of the Scout Movement involves individual Scouts as well as National Scout Organizations in peace-building activities. Since its inception in 2011, the Gifts for Peace programme of World Scouting has inspired over 10 million Scouts in 110 countries, to harness peace in their local communities. Today, you are representing every Fijian scout, as Messengers of Peace.

You have joined 40 million other Scouts engaged as Messengers of Peace participating in creative and innovative activities to influence peace in their various communities and the world. There are many similarities with the Duke of Edinburgh International Award, a non-formal education program run by my Ministry and I hope, in time, that the Boy Scouts will enrol as a key organisation to promote this internationally recognised Award.

I am a proud Fijian as we all are. In 2013, through its new Constitution, Fiji began a journey of eliminating discrimination, an illogical but learned distinction between one person and another. Our nation has established the fundamental principle that we are all equal citizens of one nation; we are all Fijians.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am proud to say that my Ministry has taken on the mammoth task of promoting social cohesion, tolerance, inclusion, equity and a basic appreciation of human rights especially towards women and children. We believe that by promoting equal citizenry, we are building a united and peaceful society. Our role is to create programs to entrench long-term sustainable peace based on mutual respect between all parts of our diverse community. We want to build peace at home in the same way as we keep peace in the Middle East.

We are strengthening our network with Government stakeholders and international organisations like UNDP to offer empowerment in this area. I believe this workshop will help facilitate our resolve to promote respect for other races and genders and positively influence our social relationships and tolerance amongst teachers, Scout masters and most importantly, Scouts around Fiji. As Scout leaders and teachers, I urge you to promote equal citizenry in your clubs, schools and communities. Government envisages Fiji being a socially cohesive and peaceful society.

The late President of Fiji Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara was famous for his slogan “Fiji – The Way the World Should Be”. We must embrace this saying and collectively strive to build respect and peace in our nation. Passing this ideal on to young people is the best way to build the future today.

Young people are leaders of tomorrow. We have a collective responsibility today to facilitate the future they envisage for themselves. Young people carry forward our culture, traditions, values, ideologies and aspirations as well as adapting these to the here and now as our nation develops. We must encourage them to articulate their vision and we must contribute to the future with and for our young people.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I wish you all the best during this workshop. To our international facilitators, feel at home and enjoy our famous Bula spirit. I hope you will return to your countries with sweet memories of Fiji as a peaceful nation and people. I also encourage all the local Scout leaders and teachers to learn from this workshop so you will all return to school as better agents of change and as peace builders.

Vinaka. Danyabad. Shokran. Thank you.