By James Wells in Fiji
Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort has developed a new Kindergarten and outdoor play area at a remote Fijian school built at a cost of $50,000 and named after Adelaide Crows player, Eddie Betts.
Betts and 20 of his fellow Adelaide Crows players and their families were among 2000 resort guests who donated some of their holiday time to work on the community project to build a new Kindergarten at the Conua Primary School in the Sigatoka Valley which commenced in March and was opened on Saturday (Nov 26) by Fiji Minister for Education, Dr Mahendra Reddy.
This project follows the construction of a $200,000 community meeting bure by the guests from Outrigger Fiji completed in November last year.
The next community tourism project, which will involve construction of a free-standing classroom to accommodate 100 students, will commence in the new year.
Eddie Betts said he was honoured that the kindergarten carried his name.
“It makes me feel connected to this community and the thought of all the young children who will start their education in this building brings me enormous joy. We have loved working with Outrigger Fiji on this kindergarten project to benefit the beautiful community of Fiji,” he said.
“Cultural sensitivity is important and we believe resort General Manager Peter Hopgood and the Outrigger family have established respectful and trusting relationships with the local community.
“The Adelaide Football Club players, coaches and families who came to work on the kindergarten have all taken home special memories from working with Outrigger on this project – they all vow to return again next year!
“Congratulations to the Outrigger on giving something back,” Betts said.
Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort General Manager, Peter Hopgood, said the building of the kindergarten was an excellent example of community tourism at work.
“We are committed to giving back to the local community and the building of the kindergarten exemplifies that commitment,” he said.
The opening of the kindergarten coincided with the opening of the Conua School’s Jonathan McDaniel Library.
The 3000 book library has been donated by the widow of Jonathan McDaniel who with her husband was a regular visitor to Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort.
Jennifer McDaniel from Omaha in the United States said it had been an honour and privilege to fund The Jonathan McDaniel Library.
“My late husband was very passionate about reading and making sure that everyone, both young and old, had access to books,” she said.
“Funding this library ensures that all will have access to all sorts of books and I’m very honoured to fulfil Jonathan’s dream and to keep his memory alive through books,” McDaniel said.
Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort Activities Manager, Kini Sarai, said the kindergarten was a dream come true for local villagers.
“The emotion that we saw on the faces of the elders when they saw the completed building is something that will stay with me.
“For ordinary villagers, raising funds to send their kids to school is already a struggle and raising funds to build a building like the kindergarten would take years.
“For Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort to turn up and say this is what we wish to build for you is the thing of dreams,” Sarai said.
Under the leadership of Hopgood – the Service to the Industry recipient at the 2016 HM Awards – Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort has become one of the nation’s largest fundraisers and launches new community-based projects on an annual basis.