Assistant Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Honourable Sashi Kiran and judges with DVC Paunga and the debate winning team Pandit Vishnu Deo Memorial College
It was an immensely proud moment for students of Pundit Vishnu Deo Memorial College after winning the University of the South Pacific Lautoka campus organized Girmit Day celebration debate competition on May 3.
Leader of the Saweni based school’s debate team Suyeshna Varman also left an everlasting impression in the minds of the audience and the judges after singing a mesmerizing traditional Hindi folk song known as Bidesia at the beginning of her presentation.
The school debated in favour of the topic “Is enough being done in Fiji to preserve the cultural heritage of the Girmitiyas”.
An elated Suyeshna revealed that winning the debate means a lot for her team as this is the first time they had taken part in any such event.
“Actually, we never came to this debate to win as our prime motive was to familiarize ourselves on how such a competition is conducted.
“Since joining the school four years ago I always wanted to be part of a debate team but never got the opportunity as hardly any organization was organizing such an event.”
“All we knew that in the past very robust debate sessions used to take place between different schools where enormous amount of knowledge sharing do took place.”
“Our team is extremely grateful to the USP Lautoka campus for finally providing us the opportunity to take part in a debate session.”
The Year 13 pupil revealed that it took her three-member team almost two weeks to thoroughly research on their topic to make their stance relevant.
“Our team strongly felt that enough is being done in Fiji to keep awareness about our indentured labourers from the Girmit era.”
“We have documentaries and books written by renowned local scholars on the struggle and hardship of the Girmitiyas to steer our nation to where it is today.
“We have folk songs especially dedicated towards the suffering of our ancestors who were brought to Fiji in the colonial days.
“Additionally, this year government of the day has declared a public holiday known as Girmit Day for all of us to remember and appreciate the sacrifice of the Girmitiyas”.
Suyeshna stressed that it is vital for the young generation to know the sacrifices of the indentured labourers so that they can acquire great inspiration from the past and have similar commitment towards life as our forefathers.