The first of the summer’s public health days was World No Tobacco Day. Since Cami is project lead of Hospital Health, she headed this one up. It was a ton of work, but turned out to be a huge success, and a lot of fun!
The day before World No Tobacco Day, we headed up to the innermost villages in the mountains of Viti Levu, the district of Nadarivatu. We went to the schools and villages and did presentations on the many harmful effects of tobacco. Many people were very interested, because it is not a well-known fact there that tobacco is, in fact, very very bad for you.
One teacher at the schools came up to Nate after and asked, “If I stop smoking today, will all of this stuff (referring to heart disease, lung cancer, rotting tongue, etc) happen to me?” Nate assured him that the sooner he stops, the less likely he will be to be harmed by tobacco. He replied, “Then, I will never smoke again!”
The next day, we had a huge celebration in Tavua, celebrating No Tobacco Day. We started out with a parade that began at the hospital, and ended at the town market.
At the town market we set up some booths – one for our volunteers to spread the word about tobacco, one for refreshments, one for the Fijian Cancer Society who came, and then a podium where we had some speakers. We also had a band play, and entertainment.
Cami ended up writing a speech for the District Officer who was the chief guest, and who also, turns out, was a smoker. The speech made it clear that smoking is harmful to your health, your wallet, your children, and your whole family. At the end of his speech he stated that he had quit smoking right after he read the speech for the first time.
After the celebration in town, we went to the schools around Tavua and did skits and presentations on the effects of tobacco. Since then, all the kids from Nabuna say, No Smoking, No Tobacco, and put their fingers up to their mouths like they’re smoking every time they see a volunteer. Every time. We definitely made an impression there!
It was an exhausting day, and pretty stressful planning the whole event, but Cami loves to coordinate and plan events, particularly health events, so it was SO worth it!