Dr Austin Bowden-Kerby
Dr Austin Bowden-Kerby is recognised as one of the worlds pioneers of ‘Coral Gardening’. He has spent many years providing community workshops and establishing coral nurseries across the Pacific and Caribbean.
Raised in the Pacific, Austin has been married for 36 years and has four children and six grandchildren. A Fiji citizen, he operates a 37 acre permaculture farm and hatchery for climate adapted chickens and runs a small not-for-profit organisation in Fiji called ‘SELF: Sustainable Environmental Livelihoods for the Future’. SELF works with communities on coral restoration, coral reef management, the promotion of free range chickens as alternative protein to fish to support no-fishing areas.
Austin’s work has been the focus of three BBC TV documentaries. He is also winner of the prestigious National Geographic Ashoka Changemakers Award for the Environment in 2011.
Dr Jone Hawea
Dr Jone Hawea is a medical surgeon who has served in all major hospitals in Fiji. Much of his work has revolved around diabetic amputations. He has also served as Medical Officer in various Peace Keeping Missions and has done medical stints in Niue and in New Zealand.
Dr Jone Hawea is currently the Medical Director of the SMILE Health Initiative of FRIEND, a home grown Fijian NGO. He is also the associate Director of Foundation for Rural Integrated Enterprises & Development, a local NGO that works towards empowering communities through social, economic and health programs.
He is a keen rugby player and has been organizing a mix of sports in communities to ensure that men and women of all ages participate to ensure physical health.
Dr Jone is also a heartfulness meditation trainer and has been offering this service free of charge to ensure his patients find relief from stresses known to be contributing factors to non-communicable diseases.
Frances C. Koya Vaka'uta
Frances Cresantia Koya Vaka’uta is Associate Dean Research & Internationalization at the Faculty of Arts, Law & Education, at The University of the South Pacific. She teaches curriculum studies, education in small island developing states with a particular interest in Education for Sustainable Development and Rethinking Pacific island Education.
Jope Tarai is a research student and teaching assistant at the University of the South Pacific (USP) who spent his early years growing up in the interior parts of Fiji before moving to Suva.
He is dedicated to research in areas of diplomacy, Pacific politics, youth development, social media and gender where he challenges the traditional structure and asks people to question the status quo.
Jope attended Assemblies of God Primary School (A.O.G) and Stella Maris before moving to Marist Brothers High School (MBHS) before completing his tertiary studies at the University of the South Pacific (USP).
Peter is a poet, arts manager and creator. He is a passionate supporter of the spoken word arts movement in Fiji most recently through his group ‘The Poetry Shop’.
He began his career in the non-government sector as a human rights activist with Women’s Action for Change (WAC) and was a founding member of the only feminist community radio station in the country; femLINKPACIFIC.
Recently his work has focused on integrated artistic ways to tell the challenging health stories that many local people face in overcoming the increasing non-communicable disease rates such as diabetes.
He is also the manager of a local street arts market in Suva and a Project Manager working in Arts Therapy.
Sachiko Soro is a human that fell in love with dance and playing music at a young age which led to her spending most of her life doing it.
Sachiko founded the VOU Dance Company in Fiji more than 10 years ago. The company provides scholarships for hopeful dancers and supports the careers of dancers by hiring them as full time professionals. VOU has performed at events all over the world and runs to Dance Schools in Suva and Nadi.
Sachiko majored in dance in New Zealand and returned to Fiji to start the VOU Dance Company which connects us to the culture of Fiji and the Pacific through contemporary dance. She has two very cute babies, and a dancing machine husband that are all part of the story behind the success of the VOU Dance Company.
Sashi Kiran conceptualised and established a non-government organisation known as FRIEND in 2001 and set a dream in motion to see a Fiji that is socially and economically healthy.
FRIEND works directly with communities to help them recognise their strengths then provides skills, training and resources to help them step out of poverty and receive a regular and sustainable income.
FRIEND has a business arm known as TaTadra Pacifica that ensures grassroots products find genuine markets. The profit of this work ensures FRIEND is sustainable into the future.
Sashi has also served on various National and International boards including the Boards of the CIVICUS-World Alliance for Citizen Participation and Asia Pacific Association for Basic and Adult Education as well as the advisory Council of University of the South Pacific Lautoka Campus.