This is what it’s all about.
Immediately following Cyclone Winston I travelled to Naviti Island in the Yasawas, Fiji to visit each of the villages we were supporting. Our aim was to find out what each of the villages most needed. It was during this trip I heard about a gentleman who desperately needed a wheelchair. He’d struck a cord. Aisake was paralysed from the waist down (due to free diving accident where he got the Bends) and was roughly Trent and my age with literally had no way of moving around. He was often house bound for days at time and had half his life ahead of him. I immediately wrote *WHEELCHAIR beside his village’s list.
When I returned to Mantaray Island each evening I updated all our donors sharing stories and photos from the day. This day was different, there was a massive sense of urgency. The shipping container of donated goods was leaving the very next day and we had less than 24 hours to find a wheelchair and make sure it made the container in time.
Within 12 hours we had three amazing donations including this shiny brand spanking new wheelchair. Megan from Bay Mobility in Port Stephens NSW donated one right off the shelf. A special mention must also go Angela from Hunter Health who sought permission to have two further wheelchairs donated to Food For Fiji and then literally met the truck on the way down the highway to make sure they were included in the container.
Fast forward a couple of months (there was a massive delay of containers leaving Sydney to Fiji, due to all the cyclone relief supplies), it was delivery day. When the container arrived and we load the barge bound for Naviti Island, I retrieved the wheelchair so we could carry it to Naviti Island in our private boat. With tonnes of donated goods and food I didn’t want the wheelchair to get damaged or end up at the wrong village. I’ll be honest, I also wanted the joy of personally delivering it to him to complete the journey and see what a difference a group of people can make to one person’s life.
After calling ahead to let the village know we were coming the Torani Koro (council men) and village Minister meet us on arrival, they then showed our group to Isake’s house. To say he appeared overwhelmed is an understatement; I know we all were. What an honour to be a part of making such a difference to somebody’s life, and to be right there in that moment to experience it thanks to all of you, Lauren and our delivery group. We did it! Aisake now has a way of moving around his village and participating in life. There was even talk of adding some fishing rod holders. NB. Food For Fiji has ordered some no-puncture wide rubber wheels suitable for grass and sand which should further assist Isake moving around the village. These will be delivered during my next visit to Naviti Island in June once they arrive in Fiji.