In 2010, 2013 and 2015 Waikato Sunrise Rotary members traveled to remote villages in Fiji to help refurbish schools buildings.
 

2015 – Kioa Island school refurbishment

In April 2015 six members of Waikato Sunrise traveled to Kioa Island, Fiji to undertake a project refurbishing a school building. The team who took on this project were, Malcolm Neil, Paul Street, Tim Densem, Raewyn Kirkman, Sandra Buchanan and Michele Rees-Williams.  Raewyn has written this article about the project.
 
Six members of Waikato Sunrise Rotary headed to remote Kioa Island in Fiji –home to 300 people and a four room school for around 100 kids to refurbish a school building. Apart from a beautiful beach and stunning sunsets this was not the resort version of Fiji – we had a flush toilet that worked for the first three days and the shower was a bucket and bowl. Our beds were mats on the floor.
 
Each day the village women would bring lunch, welcome us to the communal area and we shared a meal.
 
On the first day, a woman thanked us for helping changing the lives of the young people of the island, for giving them hope for their children’s futures and for opening up the world beyond Kioa for the next generation.  Every day the welcome would be the same – thank you for giving up a week of your lives to make a difference to the rest of the lives of our children.
 
And I thought I had just gone there to fix up a rundown building .
 
For 18 years I had heard Rotarians talk about their Rotary moments – those special moments when they went from Rotary member to Rotarian, and while I have had many special moments in Rotary, as I sat there on the ground in Kioa that first day listening to the village matriarch talk about changing the lives of their children, tears streaming down my dusty, paint splattered face, I truly understood the magic of Rotary.
 

2013 – Vuna School Refurbishment

During the first week of September 2013, Waikato Sunrise participated in a multi-club multi-district International project, to refurbish a school building in the remote island village of Vuna on Taveuni island.  Members Tim Anderson, Paul Street, Malcolm Neil, Bryce Weal, Mitchell Smith were part of the team. Two additional non-Rotarians joined the team sponsored by their employers – Matthew Saunders from Smartrak and Scott Cromarty from Zip Plumbing.
 
The team worked in Vuna village for one week to complete the project, following a week of preliminary work completed by a team from the Rotary Club of Devonport. Rotarian Geoffrey Amos and the Rotary Club of Taveuni were the ‘local’ contact to coordinate the project. Total project costs were $10600, half of which was funded by Waikato Sunrise in partnership with Smartrak who contributed $2000 towards the project.
 

2010 – Saqani Fiji Pre-school Refurbishment

During the first week of August 2010,  Waikato Sunrise participated in a multi-club,  multi-district Rotary project,  to refurbish a preschool building in the remote island village of Saqani,  on the Fijian Island of Vanua Levu. Members and  friends of Waikato Sunrise –  Malcolm Neil,  Warren Clarke,  Tim Anderson and Danae Cooney –  joined Rotarians from  the Rotary Clubs of Fairfield,  Hamilton East and Te Aroha,  to form a team of eight to complete the second week of the two-week project.  Week one of the project was completed by members of the Rotary Club of Devonport.
 
Unfortunately,  a road accident on the journey from the Savu Savu airport to the village,  resulted in Warren Clarke having to return to NZ for medical attention,  but the rest of the team –  three others of which were in the same vehicle,  were able to continue on with the project.
 
Rotarian Geoffrey Amos and the Rotary Club of Taveuni Fiji had organised the funding for this project from the abovenamed NZ Rotary Clubs,  which funded all the building materials,  food,  transportation,  additional labour and everything else needed to complete the project.   The NZ teams were accommodated in village housing and catered for by the villagers and the Taveuni team.
 
The project required the team to complete painting,  building,  plumbing,  roofing and general construction around the project. Every day was very full as the team worked from 8.00am to 5.00pm in the heat of the day,   which at it hottest was 40 degrees in the sun.   The project was fully completed to very high standard by the last day of week two.
 

Team member,  Danae Cooney,  aged 16 and in year 12 at Hillcrest High School had always dreamed of helping people in need and making a difference in the world.   She asked to join the Saqani project,  and rolled icecreams at Gelatopia for 12 weeks to save the $1200 for her ticket.

Danae enjoyed getting to know many of the villagers,  particularly Salote,  the village preschool teacher,  who had been the driving force of the preschool project,  as well as starting  the women’s group of the village to get a village ‘bakery’  up and running, which would ensure the village a constant income.  During public presentations on her experience,  Danae shared,  “Salote was an amazing woman for me to meet.  She honestly has so much drive,  and the villagers are very,  very lucky to have her there. She is the type of person capable of doing she puts her head and heart in to,  and if it weren’t for her huge enthusiasm for her village,  this project wouldn’t have been possible”.

Danae spent hours designing and painting colourful murals inside the preschool,  as well as helping with painting.  Getting to know village youths enhanced the significance of this Rotary experience on Danae,  leaving a lasting impression of how fortunate she is to live in New Zealand.  “Understanding this,  I believe I have an obligation to make the most of the opportunities available to me in NZ,  and to give what I can to make a difference in the world” she reflected.
 
The Saqani pre-school refurbishment project was a successful example of Rotary’s international theme in 2010:  Building Communities,  Bridging Continents.  Giving time as well as money enabled the team to experience the joy of international relationship and the building of good will.  Danae encourages others  “Put your hand up,  put your hand up,  put your hand up.  Because I ‘put my hand up’,  helping people is no longer a dream,  it’s my reality.  It doesn’t matter what age you are or what point of your life you’re in;  these are opportunities you should take when they come your way.  Thank you Rotary for this opportunity to serve”.
 
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