Nearly a year ago, Susan Carter arrived in Fiji on our first ever intake of volunteers. As an experienced teacher working at the Singapore American School, Susan was moved by the challenges faced by the island schools and the lack of resources. Susan thoroughly enjoyed her time volunteering at Ratu Meli School and formed a close connection with the local students while gaining first hand experience as to the everyday challenges that the children face in the islands. After returning to Singapore, Susan gave presentations on her experience and linked in these experiences to 6th grade student’s study of water issues and disease. Susan and GVI Fiji project leaders exchanged information and photos as the water unit studies continued. Susan explained the challenges effected RMMS school, water shortages, lack of clean drinking water, no working toilets, cracked water tanks, and the resulting impact on daily life. The students of the Singapore American school, motivated by the their teacher’s experiences,set out to raise funds to help improve the water facilities at Ratu Meli School. The response and success of the student’s individual fundraising initiatives was amazing. Below are some example fundraising blogs set up by the students
Ben (Run-a-thon 3 students) Raised $1531
Yana ((Purchased and sold rubber wrist bands, two students) Raised $467
Hana (read-a-thon) Raised $925
Chris Emerson, one of the teachers at SAS wrote the following in response to the success of the initiative and the students involvement:
All told, the 309 students in 6th grade created 185 projects which spanned the globe in impact. However, many students chose to focus their efforts closer to home with much of their hard work going to charities in SE Asia and the South Pacific. On the 19th of April those phenomenal efforts were celebrated with an all-day series of events in the MS library… Students were able to present their projects to parents and peers in the morning, and in the afternoon we had two speakers who are deeply committed to solving water issues. The first, SAS Board Member Joe Anderson, who is on the board of the WTO (World Toilet Organization) talked about the importance of getting more people the toilets and sanitation needed to improve global health issues. The second speaker, Chris Wilson, founded and runs an NGO in Cambodia called Social Capital Venture whose “priority is the delivery of clean, safe water to rural communities, with complementary work in the fields of health, education, and farming”. Both speakers were able to give our students an invaluable peek into what it means to work in the non-profit field and were inundated with questions at the end of their talks.
As one student said in response to a survey on the project “I think this was one of the hardest and best projects I have ever done.” We look forward to continuing and growing this project with future Grade 6 classes, allowing them to see the power they hold in impacting global and regional water issues.
A few days ago, the GVI Charitable Trust received $7681 Fijian Dollars from the Singapore American School water fundraising project. On Thursday confirmation of these funds for the refurbishment of the school toilet blocks was passed on to the head teachers of the school who were overjoyed and surprised by the amazing news. GVI will be working very hard over the next month to manage the improvement of the school water facilities and ensure that all students, many of which board at the school, have access to clean toilets and running water. Currently none of the sanitation facilities are functioning and the school has risked closure as a result. We are confident that with the help of the Susan and her students, the GVI Charitable trust, and our enthusiastic volunteers and staff here in Fiji we will now be able to better protect the health and happiness of RMMS students. On behalf of all the students and their families at RMMS, the teachers, and GVI we would like to thank the impressive fundraising team in Singapore for making this possible. We look forward to sharing photos of our progress!
It is very rewarding to see what a volunteer experience can lead to and the kind of changes that can be initiated through these connections and the spreading of experience. It is even more moving to see school children help school children, school supporting schools, and the value of these type of cross cultural exchanges.
Watch this blog for further developments on the SAS funded water project at RMMS.
Vinaka Vaka Levu!