Author: admin
• Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

posted May 24th

reprint of a recent news article from the Good News Blog, featuring our work in Fiji in late 2016….

April 24, 2017

Posted by gnb team

A Mission Grant Recipient

By Peter and Susan, Fiji

During the last months of 2016, we made trips to three of Fiji’s most cyclone-damaged islands, Koro, Vanua Balavu, and Taveuni, in order to donate books to all their schools.


In March 2016, more than 40 people died when Cyclone Winston, the most powerful storm to make landfall in the southern hemisphere, smashed their schools, houses, churches, roads, and crops. A huge tidal surge, up to four meters high, compounded the losses for many villagers. (See before-and-after photos here.)


As is the case with any such project, the actual giving of 72 boxes of books was the tip of the iceberg; the story actually began several months earlier when we asked the Ministry of Education of Fiji for a list of top-priority schools after the devastation brought about by Cyclone Winston. We also owe a debt of gratitude to friends in Australia who went around collecting the books on our behalf, and also to Chris Park in Melbourne who organized the sending of the boxes of books to Fiji.

The target community of the project was primarily the thousands of children whose schools had been severely damaged by the category-five cyclone. Every school we visited had lost its entire library of books, along with shelves and roofs.

The main difficulties to overcome were logistical ones. For example, we encountered problems in finding trucks available to transport the books, because there are very few vehicles on these islands and most of them are already reserved in advance or need repairs. We also needed a boat to visit two outer islands, Avea and Cikobia, but there weren’t any available on the day we preferred, and then on the following days boats were available but the sea was too rough to go anywhere. But the Lord provided a solution. We left boxes of books for two schools with the closest available school and they will transport them on the next available boat.

The goals of the project were reached, and in addition it resulted in some very positive news articles in Fiji’s main newspapers, as well as on Fiji One TV news.

Donating to these village schools also provided a big psychological boost to the whole community, giving them the sense that they’re slowly returning to their normal lives again. We received many messages of thanks along these lines.

being escorted by friendly local police!

[caption id="attachment_3043" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="students help transport the boxes by wheelbarrow"][/caption]

high school book presentation

[caption id="attachment_3045" align="aligncenter" width="231" caption="Fiji Times news article on our work"][/caption] 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Author: admin
• Saturday, February 25th, 2017

posted Feb 25th 2017

Towards the end of last year, things were so busy that we hardly had time to brush our teeth!!! Here are 2 stories from the last part of the year that we didn’t find time to put on our website…..

Sanjiv musical event!

Our good friend Sanjiv has continued ‘fighting the good fight’ despite his being in a wheelchair & also stuck in a long, drawn out compensation case that’s taken 7 years so far….In order to help pay for his weekly medical needs, Sanjiv took the bold initiative of organizing a musical event, with local big names Noa Junior & Umlesh Polo in fierce competition to be the best bhajan band in the Pacific!

Susan in action selling lottery tickets!

What with paying for the bands, renting the hall, printing the tickets & all the other costs, the profit margin was extremely thin, & so hopes were pinned on a lottery to bring in some extra funds. Susan volunteered to go around & sell the lottery tickets & astounded all present by getting just about everyone in the audience of mostly Hindi-speaking Indians to buy a good amount! Everyone agreed she was totally amazing & this helped greatly to make the evening a success.

 

 

 

Visit to Yanuca Island Primary School

While hitch hiking into town one day, I was picked up by Mere, who told me that she was closely connected with a needy school on Yanuca Island. She said that if we were able to give books to the school, then she’d be able to bring us in her car to the boat jetty in Pacific Harbour & organize the boat travel there & back.

Glenys, Joy, Peter on our way to Yanuca Island!

A few months later, Australian Joy (who’s been a tremendous help in sending many of our boxes of books from Melbourne over to Fiji), was visiting us, along with her 71-year old aunt, Glenys. We decided it was a good time to make a trip to Yanuca Island to help their school.

 

After a one hour trip to the boat departure point & the 45 minute boat ride, we were warmly welcomed by the head teacher who took us on a tour of the school. We were pleased to see that he strongly encourages reading by opening the library early every morning & that children are already gathered there waiting.


The book presentation was really a joyous occasion as we were treated like VIPs. The school children showed us their traditional songs & dances, and afterwards we were treated to a fantastic Fijian lunch with all kinds of sea food — what a great day!

reaching the school...

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Author: admin
• Saturday, December 10th, 2016

Posted December 11th

arriving in Vanua Balavu

After Koro, Vanua Balavu was the second most severely damaged outer island after Cyclone Winston. It’s part of the Lau group & is serviced by a weekly ferry, plus it has a grass airstrip, like Koro, with weekly flights.

 

 

 

A big ‘thank you’ to George Goundar, of Goundar Shipping that donated transport of the 21 boxes of books on the Lomaiviti Princess ferry. This time, we took the Fiji Airways small propeller plane & waited for the shipment of books to arrive 2 days later.

Giving the boxes of books to the 8 village schools was an unforgettable experience: children that have gone through such a lot, in badly-damaged schools that are still in the middle of reconstruction, yet remain so cheerful & thankful for any help that comes their way.

donating 5 boxes to Adi Maopa Secondary School

 

The logistics of going to the different corners of Vanua Balavu was challenging, but head teachers were very helpful in arranging boats, trucks & wheelbarrows. We even carried out one day’s school distributions in the island’s only police car!

Getting back to Suva was also an adventure as planes can only operate when the grass airstrip is dry…..& on the day of our departure, there was light rain! We went to the tiny airport & checked in, but were then notified 2 hours later that the plane had been cancelled & to wait for the next one in 1 or 2 weeks!! Luckily, after lots of phone calls, another plane came to the rescue after 3 days & we made it safely back home to Suva!

To finish off with, here’s a 2-minute news clip from the Fiji One TV news that gives a summary of our trips to both Koro & Vanua Balavu:

Fiji One TV news clip

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Author: admin
• Thursday, November 03rd, 2016

posted November 3rd

Read about our exciting trip to Koro island in Fiji’s Lomaiviti group of islands! It suffered more than any place in Fiji when Cyclone Winston tore through the island last February, ripping roofs off even the most solid buildings & in some cases destroying whole villages with tidal waves!

We visited every school on the island & donated much-needed library books. Here below is the link to our newsletter:

http://www.pacificoutreach.com/wp-content/uploads/Nov-2016-news-from-Pacific-Outreach.pdf


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Author: admin
• Thursday, October 06th, 2016

Posted October 6th

As we mentioned last time, the Ministry of Education gave us a list of 24 cyclone-damaged schools in 3 of Fiji’s outer islands, the first of which was Koro. We just came back from a one-week trip there & are happy to share the story, along with some of the photos, (many more photos on our
Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/peterandsusan.kingston)

Our accommodation at Nasau Primary School for one night. You can see the damaged classrooms in the background.

Goundar shipping kindly donated our tickets to go there, along with transportation of the 26 boxes of library books that we were bringing for all the 8 schools on the island.

Koro island has about 5000 inhabitants & dirt roads connect the various villages. Cyclone Winston did tremendous damage to the island & even now, 6 months later, many houses are still lacking walls & roofs! There are plenty of households that are living under tarpaulins or in tents.

All the schools we visited were about half or three quarters damaged, with most classes now taking place in large tents donated by Unicef.

We gave 3 boxes of Australian library books to each primary school & 5 boxes to the (only) secondary school. They were received with great joy as the cyclone swept away just about everything, either by the strong winds or in the powerful waves that followed.

Sue sharing a book with some of the students.

 

We’re thankful to the Eastern Education Office in Suva, as they were extremely helpful in organizing diesel trucks to take us from one village to the next, along with all the boxes of books. They also helped organize our stay with the head teachers of some of the schools we went to.

Students of Qalivakabau Primary School show their new books!

 

To be continued…..

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