Mareta - Volunteering for Nature
Meet Mareta Kabakoro is a 22 year old who joined the volunteer programme at WWF South Pacific this year. She was part of the team that held workshops on the setup of protected areas, poaching and control of fires on Gau Island in September.
Kabakoro hails from Naweni village located along the west coast of Natewa Bay in Vanua Levu.
She resides in Suva and recently completed her environmental science studies at the Fiji National University.
Volunteering and working with communities especially on natural resource conservation issues comes naturally owing largely to her passion for it. “I chose to volunteer for WWF South Pacific because the projects they have carried out always interested me as an environmental science student,” Kabakoro said.
Growing up, Mareta has always been very passionate about the environment which is why she pursued studies in this field. Additionally, she always wanted to work with different communities because of the unique and honorable views they hold in protecting their natural resources.
It was the first time Mareta had visited the Gau Island and the experience, she said, has left a deep impact on both her professional and personal life.
She admits she had never been out and away in the field to explore life on the island. . The trip not only gave her a deeper understanding of communal living but also proved to be an excellent platform to meet like-minded people under the same roof and with a common goal – those committed towards the sustainable management of natural resources.
Mareta was profoundly impressed by the people in the village who showed an ardent devotion towards their natural environment.
The workshop not only broadened Mareta’s knowledge but also helped her develop interpersonal skills by interacting with the community.
Kabakoro exudes a demure demeanor. The trip to Gau proved a personal gain especially in developing her interpersonal skills through interactions with villagers that attended the workshops. The friendliness of Sawaieke residents helped her to overcome her shyness.
“You can talk to anyone at anytime and they will be ready to lend you an ear,” she said.
She believes that traditional knowledge and methods of resource management are important and should complement contemporary methods of natural resource management.
“It is more important to allocate responsibility to the communities because they reserve emotional ties with their environment and understand it better than others,” she said.
Conservation, she thinks, is not all about science but has much to do with people and their involvement with the natural resources around them and how they connect with them.
“The community life is dependent on its forests, fish species and other resources for livelihood and this fuel of their livelihood should be sustained for the future generations,” she said.
“I also wanted to see things with my eyes rather than studying it in the books. This has been an excellent opportunity to make my dreams come true and I am hoping for more to come."