BY JOY OFASIA
MARILYN Ghedi, the Solomon Islander who previously gained nationwide fame for her conservation works on Arnarvon Islands.
She has a never-ending passion for environmental conservation and devoted her life to advocacy and conservation works to preserve the marine and wildlife biodiversity at the famous Arnarvon Islands Community and Marine Park.
The Arnarvon Islands consist of four small islands located in the Manning Strait between Isabel and Choiseul Province, Solomon Islands. The Conservation Area was established in 1995 and was the first community-managed marine conservation area in Solomon Islands. It is a nesting ground for critically endangered hawksbill sea turtles.
Marilyn shared her story on how she founded the KAWAKI Women Network Group to promote conservation against the environmental destruction and human harvesting of marine resources on the Arnarvon Islands Marine Conservation Park.
“It all began when my family and I returned to the Isabel province due to the ethnic tension crises back in 1998 when staying back in the village got me engaged with women ex-pats who traveled to the Isabel province to visit the Arnarvon Islands,” Marilyn recalled. “I used to be one of the women who would be asked often to accompany visitors to the conservation islands and got engaged in this work from 1999 to 2013.”
Marilyn hails from Kia village in Isabel and was a former woman police officer of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF).
During her years of volunteerism in the Arnarvon Islands, she saw the significance of conservation work and later decided to come up with the idea to create something to help tell stories about the Arnarvon Islands conservation effort to the world.
Marilyn has recently received a ‘Commonwealth Points of Light Award’ from Her Majesty, Queen Elizebeth based on her work within the community to advocate on the conservation of the natural resources on Arnarvon Islands.
“In 2015 I created the KAWAKI women’s network group which was later registered in 2017, the vision of the group was to engage women’s participation in conservation work with the rangers (conservation team) from Arnarvon Islands Marine Conservation Park; and to advocate (raise awareness), preserve the culture and promote sustainable marine resource management of Arnarvon Islands for our children and their future generations,” she said. “The group consists of women within the respective communities of Katupika, Wagina in Choiseul province, and Kia in Isabel province.”
Over the years, the women members of the KAWAKI Women Network Group from Isabel and Choiseul province have work in partnership to promote a leadership role in promoting sustainable conservation of the marine and wildlife biodiversity on Arnarvon Islands.
The members of KAWAKI Women Network Group also engaged in economic generating activities, like involving life skill activities through learning and teaching themselves on how to sew garments including the creation of handicraft products to display and sale for visitors on the Arnarvon Islands.
The group often supports the Arnarvon Islands Marine Park rangers in their clean-up activities, and also responsible for providing caterings and entertainment for local visitors, international tourists, and researchers on the Arnarvon Islands.
“Women have played a vital role in the development of the community and more often they are not recognized much in the rural settings or even left out in decision-making processes, therefore, KAWAKI women network group will continue work in partnership with important stakeholders in the conservation, and preservation of the natural resources on the Arnarvon Islands,” said Marilyn.