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By Al Hulsen

HONOLULU, Hawai‘i (March 24, 2000 – PIDP/CPIS)---"If we in the Pacific want to help the world become a better place for mankind in the new millennium," Kiribati President Teburoro Tito told his colleagues during last week’s special meeting of the Standing Committee of the Pacific Islands Conference of Leaders, "then the most precious thing that we can offer is our ‘Pacific Village Way.’"

It stands for all the "good human values," he emphasized, which include "caring, sharing, respect for others, hospitality, integrity, courage and the many ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ associated with the various aspects of a culture."

In his comments to the assembled presidents and prime ministers at Hawai‘i’s East-West Center -- from the Cook Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, and Tonga -- he quietly, persistently and eloquently presented his case for making "The Village Way" part of the ongoing economic and social development process in the Pacific.

It is rich in the many good things a person needs "in order to have human happiness and peace," which are "the greatest gifts of life that no gold or material wealth can buy."

"The village is a place where a person feels that he or she is loved, counted, cared for and free from serious harm or danger."

President Tito said, "In Kiribati there is a common belief that people who come from the village are more friendly, hard working and more cultured than their urban counterparts."

He admitted that this is not absolutely true, but he said many people go back to their village from time to time "to refresh their spirits," for it is a place where people live in harmony with others and their surroundings and "where a person has a role to play for others and the community as a whole."

"By promoting the ‘Pacific Village Way,’" the Kiribati president concluded, we not only empower villagers "to be initiators and activators of development, but we also boost all good efforts, local or external, aimed at improving peoples’ lives."

His comments, he said, were in support of the holistic, multi-dimensional development process for the Pacific developed by Dr. Sitiveni Halapua, Director of the Pacific Islands Development Program, which emphasizes "non-material factors, including tradition and cultural values," in the formulation of development models and policies.

[For the complete text of President Tito's remarks please go here.]

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