Major drive to refurbish Fiji Schools

Funds needed for furniture, books, stationary 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 prominent businessman and community worker has said.

Ahemad Bhamji has just returned from Fiji after visiting a number of schools in some of the areas devastated by Tropical Cyclone Winston which lashed across the South Pacific nation on February 20, 2016.

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 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.

Thus, a school with 500 children would need NZ$ 1 million.

According to a government estimate, at least 240 schools were destroyed and damaged by the natural disasters.

“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 businesses and good people of New Zealand to help us to re-equip our schools with their donations,” he added.

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