A broken house – some of whose inhabitants have disappeared, some homeless, while others are under siege – perfectly describes planet Earth.

By contrast, a home teeming with life, and sustainable living, an example for the world, is one that the Pacific Islands can offer.

Reverend Professor Dr. Upolu Va’ai called it an alternative paradigm and one where all living creatures find sanctuary.

This is the paradigm that the Reweaving the Ecological Mat Project (REM) seeks to promote by encouraging all Pacific islanders to rethink the market capitalist system of development that historically has resulted in the destruction of natural ecosystems of life and ways of living.

Ruptured connections with nature, social erosion of moral values, destructive onslaught of non-communicable diseases, the insidious impacts of corruption, power and greed a symptomatic of a paradigm that has ‘broken the home.’

The three years REM project, whose intentions is to grow into a movement across the Pacific Islands is coordinated by the Institute for Mission and Research housed under the auspices of the Pacific Theological College and the Pacific Conference of Churches. 

Rev. Professor Dr. Va’ai was speaking at REM’s Team Retreat that was held The Pearl Resort outside Suva, Fiji from the 27thto the 31st of January this year.

REM is sponsored by Bread for the World, an aid agency for the Protestant Regional and Free Churches in Germany. 

Technical and expert support is provided by the University of the South Pacific’s Oceania Center for Arts, Culture and Pacific Studies and independent consultants from Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Samoa, Fiji, Hawaii.

The Retreat discussed the next phases of REM which is its third year.

Part of that discussion is the presentation of an Ecological Framework for Development (EFD) (alternate paradigm) to the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting planned for Vanuatu this August. 

The meeting formulated strategies for awareness of the EFD amongst key targeted audiences and what happens beyond Vanuatu.

The reins of REM will then be handed over to Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC) to specifically manage through a committee.

REM also has a youth component that actively reaches out to the youth population in the region through artistic language promoting the messages of REM.

‘The Reweaving the Ecological Mat Project has given me a personal appreciation of my ancestry and what my people understand as ecology and the processes that they have and a good example is the indigenous of Australia and how they handled bus fires,’ said Benjamin Patel, a youth member.

What are the messages of REM? This was also a clear point of discussion.

The current way of doing business is not working, is causing harm and very destructive is certainly a message. Pacific Islanders need to reconnect with the way of their ancestors, living in harmony with nature for the benefit of the whole. 

These messages and others encourage Pacific islanders to rethink a new normal, a new way of doing things because the current isn’t working for anyone.