posted December 6th
We recently received a shipment of 22 boxes of school books & library books from our good friend Joy in Melbourne. She does the hard work of sourcing them from libraries & putting them into boxes which are then kindly shipped to Fiji free of charge by a company called O’Brien Customs & Forwarding, (thank you to Joy, Jan & Shane).
Often when shipments of books arrive in Fiji, we have a battle to get the goods exempted from customs duty, but this time it was the receiving shipping company that wanted us to pay 317 Fijian dollars for all the fees involved in clearing the shipment. They previously helped clear a much larger shipment of 6 pallets, but this time they asked us to pay half of the total. We explained that all our charity projects are completely free of charge & that we cannot continue doing unpaid charity work in Fiji unless shipping companies help us. We told them that we wouldn’t be able to pay anything & in the end we said ‘goodbye’ & walked out, adding that if they changed their mind & wanted to contact us, then our phone number was on their bulletin board.
As soon as we reached the house, our phone rang….it was the shipping company who told us, ‘You can come & collect the books’!
In the meantime, we contacted a mining company called ‘Namosi Joint Venture’ – an Australian venture that has set up camp in the interior Namosi area with the aim of extracting minerals. They offered to fill up their twin cab with books & drive us—on difficult dirt roads– to all the local schools.
Myself (Peter) & visiting volunteer Sam from Australia, had a wonderful time donating 28 boxes of books, including 12 from Scottish charity Books Abroad, to a total of 4 very needy primary schools, 2 secondary schools & 3 kindergartens. We also gave 3 boxes of ‘cuddle toys’ to the kindergartens which was a real joy to behold as each child received & hugged their new friend!
A big ‘thank you’ to all those involved in the project: your kindness brought an early Christmas to many!