Funds needed for furniture, books, stationery and uniforms
Venkat Raman –
While governments and organisations worldwide have been sending ship loads of food and other essential commodities, the immediate need is also to refurbish schools and educational institutions in Fiji, a community worker has said.
Ahemad Bhamji, Former President of International Congress of Fiji Inc (ICFI) was in Auckland after visiting a number of schools in some of the areas devastated by Tropical Cyclone Winston which lashed across Fiji on February 20, 2016. He has since returned to Fiji to continue relief efforts.
Mr Bhamji is working on behalf of ICFI and donations can be sent to ICFI Bank Account at Westpac (Account Number 9801043556; BSB Number 039001).
He said that the government was quick to understand the gravity of the situation and take immediate action.
“We are extremely grateful to the government which was quick to initiate relief efforts to reach food and aid to affected areas. In fact, everyone has risen above political ranks to unite and offer help and assistance. As well as New Zealand, the rest of the world has responded with money and materials,” he said.
He visited at least 15 schools in Ba and other areas, took photographs to discuss with community leaders and like-minded people in New Zealand and organise funds for refurbishment of the damaged schools.
The photographs, some of them published here and on Page 3 demonstrate the catastrophic effects of Cyclone Winston.
“The schools affected have suffered major damage to their buildings, furniture, libraries and laboratories. The government has made make-shift arrangements by moving affected children to other schools to attend classes or conduct them in temporary facilities. The capital cost of reconstructing these schools will cost millions of dollars but right now, we need to provide basic needs,” he said.
According to Mr Bhamji, the cost of providing a set of table and chair would be about NZ$ 100, in addition to books and uniforms for children.
“The actual extent of damage is being assessed. Aid agencies have praised the government for its ‘colossal efforts’ which led to the reopening of more than 1000 schools and education centre days after the Cyclone hit Fiji. Everyone in Fiji agrees that children should be our priority,” Mr Bhamji said.
“I request good people of New Zealand to help us to re-equip our schools with their donations,” he added.