Recognition for his contribution in the continuous efforts in improving the lives of persons with disabilities in Fiji, the Pacific region and beyond, has seen the Chief Executive of the Pacific Disability Forum receive the prestigious Independence Commemorative Medal from His Excellency the President of the Fiji Islands.
Mr. Setareki Macanawai was one of the 32 recipients of the country’s 50th Anniversary of Independence Commemorative Medal Special Investiture ceremony held at the State House on Monday this week. Mr. Macanawai was paid attribution for services worthy of recognition as a champion and advocate for the rights and recognition of people with disability at a national and regional level.
The medal marked each year of independence and this year, the President and Chancellor of The Order of Fiji acknowledged the efforts of 50 citizens who within a period of half a century since Independence, contributes to the country’s evolving into an acceptable level of universal socio-political and economical maturity that has many in the international arena applauding.
Reflecting on the honor bestowed on him, Mr. Macanawai mentioned that “This award is indeed a very pleasant surprise and the ceremony itself gave me an opportunity to reflect on my service to persons with disabilities firstly in Fiji, regionally and then globally. I hadn’t realised that it actually started 38 years ago in 1982 as a young 18 year old working as a braille transcriber at the Fiji Society for the Blind in Vatuwaqa, Suva. More significantly, I had just lost my sight the year before, in 1981 whilst attending Marist Brothers High school as a 6th Form student and didn’t even know that Fiji Society for the Blind existed. Well, 38 years later, and continuing to serve our disability community through my current role here at PDF, I remain truly grateful and thankful to our God Almighty for using me this way! I also thank God for every single individual who has taught, guided, shaped and influence my life to help me become the person I am today, including of course my family.”
One of the highlights for Mr. Macanawai was when he was invited by the President of the UN General Assembly to speak at the closing session of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples at the United Nations, New York in September 2014. I stood up and quoted one of my favored phrases from Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together!” This phrases stresses that we need one another to embrace genuine inclusion, celebrate diversity, and discover our purpose.”
In praising his efforts and contribution, the Pacific Disability Forum also congratulates the Fijian Government for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the 50th Anniversary celebration. This follows the unveiling of a commemorative $50 banknote and 50 cent coin to commemorate Fiji’s 50th year of independence. The commemorative currency has special features which makes it accessible. This includes two vertical lines of raised dots on the top right hand side of the banknote which can be clearly felt and are there to help the visually impaired to authenticate the banknote. The new 50Cent coin is round shaped with milled edges and inner do-decagon edges allowing for easy detection. The commemorative banknote and coin will be issued into circulation from 8 October 2020 as legal tender. Pacific Disability Forum is appreciative and commends the move by the Fijian Government in including persons with disabilities in the celebration of Fiji’s independence.