HOL­I­DAYS WITH HEART

Teach­ing your kids the value of vol­un­teer­ing and help­ing oth­ers is a great way to ex­pand their hori­zons. One fam­ily went be­yond the pool in Fiji.

Five Star Kids - - VOLUNTEER -

On ar­rival at the Outrig­ger Fiji Beach Re­sort, I’m left in no doubt that this idyl­lic Pa­cific Is­land na­tion in­vented the smile. From the ar­rivals hall at Nadi In­ter­na­tional Air­port to the fruity wel­come drink at the deluxe re­sort on Viti Levu’s sun­drenched Coral Coast (and ev­ery­where I go af­ter­wards), count­less rows of white teeth beam my way.

Their smiles are con­ta­gious. I’m soon smil­ing ea­gerly back, the tri­als and tribu­la­tions of my life back home fad­ing with each cheer­ful greet­ing of “Bula!”

What’s truly re­mark­able is that these iconic smiles haven’t faded, not even af­ter re­cent floods and the de­struc­tive im­pact of Cy­clone Win­ston – the worst in Fiji’s mod­ern his­tory. Just weeks be­fore my ar­rival, more than 108 vil­lages in the north of the coun­try had been com­pletely flat­tened by Win­ston’s fe­ro­cious winds. Across the na­tion, schools lost roofs and tens of thou­sands of peo­ple were left home­less. Dam­age to in­fra­struc­ture and crops was es­ti­mated at more than FJD$1 bil­lion (AU$640 mil­lion).

With the help of com­mu­ni­ties that were un­af­fected and in­ter­na­tional aid, in­clud­ing Aus­tralia’s, the peo­ple of Fiji quickly got on with re­build­ing and wel­com­ing tourists back.

“What can peo­ple do to as­sist Fiji? Choose Fiji as your next hol­i­day des­ti­na­tion,” urges Peter Hop­good, gen­eral man­ager at the VOL­UME 8 2017 Outrig­ger Fiji Beach Re­sort.

Hol­i­day­ing guests can play a big part in help­ing Fiji get back on its feet, he says.

Fiji is just one des­ti­na­tion where trav­ellers can vol­un­teer to help the lo­cal com­mu­nity. There is al­ways some­where in the world that needs our help.

Ho­tels with a heart play a big part in this. Ini­tia­tives such as Outrig­ger’s Com­mu­nity Tourism Project to build a new kinder­garten in the lush Si­ga­toka Val­ley (the ‘salad bowl’ of Fiji) present a great op­por­tu­nity to en­gage with the com­mu­nity while giv­ing a lit­tle back.

Up to 18 preschool chil­dren cur­rently learn in a leaky one-room hut (for­merly the com­mu­nity meet­ing hall) on the grounds of the Conua Dis­trict School.

Ex­pected to cost FJD$ 80,000 (AU$51,000) and be com­pleted by the end of the year, the gift of a much-needed mod­ern kinder­garten and play­ground will cater for up to 30 four-, five- and six-year-olds.

For a small fee of FJD$100 (AU$64) per adult and FJD$60 (AU$38) per child – money that goes to­wards the pur­chase of build­ing ma­te­ri­als – guests can give up a few hours of their hol­i­day to help the lo­cal com­mu­nity work on the project.

It’s not all hard labour. Guests spend time meet­ing and in­ter­act­ing with the stu­dents and en­joy exclusive in­sight into vil­lage life, lo­cal fa­cil­i­ties, mar­kets and at­trac­tions. A pic­nic lunch is in­cluded at the Tavuni Hill

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