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Well what can I say, I have just returned from my 5th visit to Fiji and it has been the most heartbreaking, overwhelming and rewarding experience and one that I will never forget.
We arrived in Fiji at the beautiful Hideaway Resort & Spa. We got to enjoy our very own Fangipani Bure with an outdoor shower with ocean views as an added bonus. The staff were amazing and the beach and the resort was just beautiful. The Hideaway is a really amazing resort that makes you feel right at home.
After visiting Fiji several times and realising how
very little they have it was time for us to give a
little back. After all they give everything and ask
for nothing in return and this is where SUITCASES
FOR FIJI came in. Due to the generosity of so
many of our clients, we were able to fill THREE
suitcases full of items.
Joana, from the Fiji Hideaway Resort & Spa, said
you can donate these items to a village in the area
however they have everything they need as they get donations all the time. The people that really need it are the villages that were affected by cyclone Winston and the villages that do not see anyone. She then introduced me to Joe from Debs Tours.
Ph: (02) 6242 8077
Joe is from a village called Verevere. His village was totally wiped out by cyclone Winston in February. Verevere is on the opposite side of the main island of Fiji – Viti Levu.
It’s a six hour trip there and a six hour trip back – far, far away from the main ‘tourist’ spots of Fiji. Due to this, the people there hardly see anyone outside their village. Some villagers had never even seen white people before.
Joe warned us and said your gesture is so kind, however it’s so far away but we said that's ok we don't mind we want to give these items to people in need. So the next day at 8 am we set off for a long and tiring day. From the minute I set off I knew we were in for a good day.
Half an hour in to the trip a relationship was formed with Joe that will never be broken. His knowledge, stories and love for his family and country is truly amazing. We laughed, we talked and we just listened. He showed us scenery that we have never seen before and the contrast from beautiful beaches to lush green mountain ranges to rocky terrain was truly amazing.
After a long 6 hour drive we arrived at the village. Joe walked us down to the hall where they all took shelter during the cyclone – it was only building was left standing. “Bula Bula” (“hello”) was the only thing I could understand. But the looks on their faces said it all.
Joe communicated to the locals that she was from Australia and had some gifts to donate to the village. Everyone just sat around the hall, smiling and patiently waiting. As we handed out the gifts they kept saying “Vinaka Vinaka” (“thank you”) and holding our hands. The young children did not know what was going on and it took them a while to adapt to us which is understandable. About an hour later the other children arrived home from school and they too did not know what was going on but it did not take long at all for them to adapt. The looks on their faces was truly rewarding and I had mixed emotions. I was happy to see them happy but at the same time just wanted to cry because you realise how lucky you are.
After handing out all of the items and chocolates which they all loved and were so thankful for, we enjoyed some tea and cake that they had prepared for us. We then went outside and spent some quality time playing cricket and football with the children.
All too soon, it was time to go. I did not want to leave and they did not want us to leave. The villagers came together and sang us a farewell song. Just as we were about to leave, I was greeted by an elderly member of the village who hugged me so tight and said “Vinaka Vinaka” (“thank you, thank you”) and that really did it for me. I kept saying to myself don't cry don't cry.
Then we got in the car and headed back to the resort. The whole journey, we sat in silence. We were lost for words. Joe had said to us they really appreciated the visit and they only sing the farewell song for people who are valued to their village.
It was a long day but very rewarding and one that I will never forget.
A big thank you to Joe from Debs Tours for giving us the opportunity to meet his village and put smiles on their faces, for showing us your beautiful country and for looking after us and getting us home safely.
Another BIG THANK YOU to everyone who donated. Our clients are truly amazing and so supportive of us. This is just the start of a long term project and one that I am sure we will do again so stay tuned…