Your Excellency’s, members of the Diplomatic Corps;
CEOs and representatives of the business Communities;
Senior Government officials;
The Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Self Care Retreat - Fiji, Ms. Mereane Vavataga;
Fiji Cancer Society;
Donors and Advocates of Self Care Retreat;
The Warriors and Survivors – participants of the Self Care Retreat;
Distinguished guests, Ladies and gentlemen.
Miau sa bula re and good morning to you all! It is my distinct pleasure to be amongst you today as we launch the Self Care Retreat – Fiji Logo.
Upon receiving this invitation, my office had already conducted prior discussions with the Honourable Minister and the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Protection for my role to champion the empowerment of Women in the nation – I consider it a great honor to champion this worthy cause for women because I for one was raised by a very powerful women who was a teacher by profession. I have worked and continue to work with influential women who bring about a holistic view to everyday situations and conversations.
Therefore, it was without hesitation that I accepted to be part of this launch to empower women and the survivors as we have all in one way or another been affected and lost a loved one through cancer. We thank the good Lord that we are able to convene this morning to celebrate this launch but most importantly to celebrate the lives of the survivors present here and remember lives being lost in this journey.

I wish to commend Ms. Vavataga and the Board of Trustees of the Self Care Retreat for the visionary and intentional establishment of the Self Care Retreat in 2021, whose main and important purpose is to support and create hope for those recovering from cancer, particularly women.
The Self Care Retreat I am reliably informed is a three day programme that offers participants a breather from the complexities and burdens of everyday life for just a few days after their respective cancer diagnosis. The retreat since its inception occurs twice annually in March and September with fifteen women attending accompanied by a medical professional from the Ministry of Health and Medical Services. I am confident that this worthy cause will continue to grow and open the opportunity for more cancer survivors to become participants in future.
The Self Care Retreat embraces a holistic approach towards patient and family care. While the programme offers a recess for three days, this is substituted with a roster of guest speakers ranging from counsellors, psychologist, medical practitioners who speak on a variety of topics such as nutrition, diet, and therapy among other thematic areas of focus. The most important aspect is spiritual guidance and continued sessions to empower women in their forum on a daily basis.
The Self Care Retreat is a platform that caters as a safe haven and support group for women cancer survivors that encourages sharing, healing and recuperation through high-standard Self Care Retreats for its participants. All this goes beyond the comforts of hotels and resort facilities. And I personally believe that as Pacific women, as Fijian women, going out of the home and meeting fellow women brings about deeper connections in discussions, sharing experiences and fellowship.
The organisation creates for its participants and stakeholders an environment conducive to holistic healing and growth that removes the stigma associated with social barriers set on by race, age, gender, and religious differences. Additionally, the organisation also acts as a middle ground where business houses and corporate women enable survivors to fulfill the objectives of their retreats, through sponsorships and advocacy for this worthy cause.
The reality of the socio-economic issues that our women in Fiji and their families are faced with, much like the rest of the world dictates that many times the quality of care given particularly to health and that too of women in particular is compromised. It is an unfortunate reality, and I am greatly pleased that the National Women’s Machinery, an obligatory arm of Government is committed to fulfilling all possible requirements under Fiji’s national and international policies and treaties focussed on achieving the holistic empowerment and wellbeing of our women.
This support and acknowledgement of the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Protection toward the Self Care Retreat’s function is the kind of collaboration between Government and the Civil Society that is necessary for nation building and reciprocity that when done right, allows us unlimited and uncompromised returns.
As Head of State, I am indeed proud of and excited for Self-Care Retreat – Fiji, its close collaboration with the Fiji Cancer Society and the support of the Government under its Women’s Health thematic priority aimed at strengthening its commitment as the National Women’s Machinery will stand them in good stead for the future. I wish to acknowledge the survivors present with us today. We thank God for your journey to recovery and for your families and well wishes

for their support. We are proud that you continue to empower your fellow women and are a beacon of hope that we can overcome cancer in any form. Your positivity has a trickle effect for other women going through the same and today we can proudly say that you all have a haven in Self Care Retreat.
Last year we celebrated Pinktober in the month of October and we had a survivor accompany Ms. Belinda Chang, the CEO of Fiji Cancer Society, to share her experiences with my staff. It is in hearing the testaments of survivors that we realise the hardships that they encounter and that they only need the family first and foremost to support and be an encouragement to them.
In the office we have along the way lost 2 of our women in 2015 and 2018 respectively to cancer and the office supported the children until settling them in with their respective family members who shall continue that support. So this support from my office is quite personal as we have experienced first-hand all that the women experienced and we stayed with them on the journey.
At this juncture, it would be remiss of me not to acknowledge the individuals and organisations who have donated and continue to sponsor this worthy cause. Your selfless contributions are greatly appreciated and worthy of praise, as it goes toward empowering and driving the holistic healing of our mothers, grandmother’s, sister’s, aunts and friends who have been diagnosed with cancer. All support and advocacy for Self-Care Retreat contributes greatly to making the underlying theme of ‘Rest, Recuperate and Reconnect’ of these retreats a reality.
In conclusion, I am greatly honoured and pleased to publicly launch the Self Care Retreat –Fiji logo, and wish the Self Care Retreat much success for the future.
May God bless us all. Vinaka vakalevu and thank you.