Village talks have made Bitonga Divers well known along the communities, even the ones that we have not been to yet. People walk long distances to meet our team and attend our talks. The talks target all ages.
When we started, only 15 to 20 people would appear in our presentations, today we get more than 200. We get invitations both the communities that we have been to who want us to return and the ones that we have not. They want Bitonga Divers` team to bring educational messages and energy to their people as they know is very important to everyone. This shows us how effective and relevant our work is to the people in the communities.
Each talk starts a week before when Bitonga Divers visit the remote community to obtain permission of the chief. Arrangements are also made to hold a football contest between that village and another.
The week of the talk, after the game, the winning team receives Bitonga Divers T-Shirts. Then the music starts drawing people from miles away.
When it is dark, a large screen appears, the power generator is hooked up and the computer and projector are readied for the show.
The content is varied; sometimes a movie shot in other villages like "Shiver" the anti-shark-finning movie made in collaboration with Ocean revolution and WWF last year. Sometimes a slide show about ecosystems and responsible utilization of the ocean's resources. Always it is about the wealth of the sea and the heritage it represents for the community's next generations.
Questions follow, an open mike, a quiz show and the awarding of more t-shirts as prizes.
Then it's time to celebrate. A dance contest!
Men's and women's divisions and by the end of the evening we are out of t-shirts, but the crowd understands more about their precious marine treasures, they are beginning to love them and they know what they can do everyday to make sure they are not wasted.