LABASA, MACUATA - 23rd February 2019

Distinguished Invited Guests,
Government Officials,
The Chairman and Members of the Labasa Youth Council,
The Young people of Labasa,
Ladies and Gentlemen.

Bula vinaka, Namaste, Salaam Aleikum and a Good evening to you all.

It is an honour to be here this evening and I thank the organisers for their kind words of welcome and warm northern hospitality.
I also acknowledge the Chairman, members and representatives of the Labasa District Youth Council for organising the youth awards.
Tonight, I am here not only as Chief Guest to your Youth awards but also to acknowledge the Labasa Youth officials for their hard work and contribution. This event is a major undertaking that is made possible only by the efforts of each of you, working individually in a concerted team to organise, promote and host this awards night.
To the Labasa Youth Council and its members – you make a difference. This government recognises your generosity, efforts and contributions to your northern community. It has had a profound and lasting impact on the lives of young people of Labasa.

Your willingness to share both your time and efforts and talents through youth engagements and various youth programmes and projects says a lot about each of you as young citizens of Fiji.
Your willingness to give selflessly to help youths and others in your community speaks volumes to both your strength and the quality of your character.
Ladies and gentlemen, when youths participate and contribute positively in your community. They are making a commitment to share that most precious of resources – time to make life better for those who are in need. It yields tangible impact, of course, but perhaps it is the fact that you are willing to share your time and talent to lend a helping hand. To show kindness and caring that makes the greatest difference in the lives of the individuals who are touched by your generosity.

Youths of Labasa, while I know that you choose to volunteer selflessly and without expectations of being recognized or rewarded, today I wish to do just that.

I want to let you know how much your dedication is appreciated and to make sure that everyone at Labasa is forever grateful to each of you. Whether you are a long-time Youth worker or if you got involved fairly recently, and regardless of how many hours you choose to give, it’s important for you to know that what you do makes a difference.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this Government is committed to the development of young Fijians and in doing so have put in place programmes, initiatives and strategies to ensure that youth development is consistent, inclusive and aligned to the governments National Development Plan and priorities.
Our government agenda is to ensure that no one is left behind irrespective of who you are and whether via grants, financial support, employment, development and training, etc. We’re also making conscientious efforts to give recognition and awards where it matters.

To the awardees – I congratulate you all for your achievements.
Today your recognition matters to all of us present here tonight. To witness the excellent work you all have been doing in enhancing youth development. To advocate governments youth initiatives and development programmes making our society equal for all Fijians.
I encourage you awardees to maintain your true character with an open and balance mind and strong leadership, assisting our government and respective stakeholders in building a better Fiji for all Fijians.
Ladies and gentlemen, let me tell you this, my Ministry will be hosting the National Youth Conference, to be held in Suva from the 26-28 March 2019. This is an all-inclusive programme. It is imperative that we listen and hear your voices and issues. As you know 70% of Fiji’s population comprises of youth category and for this I encourage you to attend.

Ladies and gentlemen, words cannot adequately express the gratitude that I, wish to convey. Please know that your work and contribution is recognized, appreciated and valued. We thank you and look forward to continuing to work with you in the future in areas where we all can make a difference in the lives of others in our community.

Thank you all and enjoy the evening.