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Reaching the Fiji Islands

Richard Harland

Our small volunteer team has been coming to Fiji every year for five years now, reaching not only the Fiji islands, but also the surrounding island countries such as Vanuatu, Samoa and Tonga. During this time we’ve conducted numerous programs in schools, colleges and prisons, as well as carrying out some book distribution projects in poor village schools.

In 2007 we felt that we needed to consolidate our efforts by getting set up as a registered charity in the area. There were a huge amount of obstacles to overcome, but we finally succeeded in establishing Pacific Outreach! As Christmas was now rapidly approaching, we were concerned that we should keep the momentum going by obtaining good quality books, CDs, DVDs and other gifts to share with the poor and underprivileged. Christmas is the season for giving, but where could we first get a large amount of gifts in order to then pass them on to those in need? First we contacted a number of Rotary Clubs in the area, speaking at two of their meetings. This resulted in our receiving six boxes of second hand library books that would be useful for schools.

Next, we contacted Activated Ministries in the USA and they agreed to put together some materials for us. In the end, we received 27 boxes of wonderful, brand new character-building materials, Christian videos, DVDs and CDs, calendars and much more! Activated Ministries was under the impression that we would collect all this personally and somehow transport it to Fiji, so when we clarified that we were already in Fiji, it looked like the whole project might fall through due to the very expensive freight costs involved. Upon hearing this, Activated Ministries decided to donate the air freight costs, even though it amounted to more than $2,500. We’re extremely grateful to them for their help in making this project a success.

December 2007 and January 2008 became our busiest months ever as we worked fulltime to take these precious gifts to those in need—orphanages, village schools, prisons, old age homes and the children’s ward of Fiji’s biggest hospital.

Christmas Day was one we’ll never forget: in the morning we gave gifts to women and children at the Women’s prison, and in the afternoon we were taken to a remote village that we were told was only accessible by boat. It turned out to be a 40 minute ride through mangrove swamps but was well worth the effort as the small village school there was very much in need of educational materials.

Fiji’s two major newspapers – the Fiji Times and the Fiji Sun – both ran articles on our work and we were also interviewed for the Fiji One evening news. Reactions to the publicity have been great and we’ve even had people approach us on the street because they saw us on the news! But our best memories though will always be the happy, smiling faces of children that received something extra special this Christmas! Activated Ministries, we could not have done this without your help and generosity. All of us here at Pacific Outreach thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

We visited a home for young mothers, who in most cases were forced out of their homes for “shaming” their families. They have a small school for the children and they were desperately in need of good educational and Christian-based materials.