Members of the Greek Orthodox and Australian communities are coming together to support at-risk and orphaned children in Fiji to attend school in the new year.
A special fundraiser was started two weeks ago by a group of passionate volunteers in Brisbane and has already raised over $20,000 from donors across Australia. The group set an ambitious goal of raising $60,000 to be able to purchase a new 12-seater van before the 2022 school year.
In Australia, transportation is a privilege often taken for granted and one that the children at St. Tabitha’s Greek Orthodox Orphanage in Fiji no longer have. For most parents, if they are unable to drive their children to school there is a quality public transport system in most major cities in Australia.
There is no nearby public transport system available for the children to travel to school in Fiji. Before the COVID outbreak, the children were transported to their primary and high schools in an old van from the St. Tabitha’s Orphanage. This was a drive that Sister Anysia (nun) used to do every morning and afternoon. She would take one group of children, then come back to the orphanage for the next group of children, and then for the final group – the van was not big enough for all the kids.
The old minivan broke down and became unrepairable during a COVID shutdown in Fiji. However, the impact was mitigated, in part due to pandemic restrictions meaning the boys and girls were already being schooled online via Zoom. With the lifting of the restrictions and with schools opening across Fiji, the sense of urgency to replace the van is now great.
Marketing and communications veteran Demetri Hughes is leading, alongside Dr Eleni Athinodorou and a small group of volunteers, a fundraiser to raise money to pay for a new 12-seater van for the kids at the Orphanage.
“The morning and afternoon journey, where we take our children to school, is something we consider a reality that is simply possible for all because we live in Australia.
“Whereas at the location of the Orphanage in Fiji this is not a possibility, there is no public transport options for these children to be able to attend school, without the transport of the local Orthodox nuns.
“Many of these children are either orphaned or have come from at-risk homes.
“Whilst the St. Tabitha’s provides much-needed food, shelter, and love for these kids, we also know that it is incredibly important for the psychological well-being and sense of normality for these children that they be able to play and interact with teachers and peers in the school environment.
“It is also instrumental for the long-term future of all children, that they receive a quality education to be able to obtain gainful employment when they become adults or to be able to apply for higher education studies upon completion of school.
“By coming together as a community and supporting St. Tabitha’s in purchasing a van, we are also taking away significant stress that these boys and girls should not have to think about. Every child deserves an education and every child deserves to be able to have joy and feel normal,” said Demetri.
People are encouraged to give generously to the St Tabitha’s Orphanage / Children’s Home, through Paradise4Kids Fiji, to support vulnerable at-risk children. The opportunity to make a difference and the spiritual meaning of this cause happening at this time of year is something that Demetri Hughes speaks about.
“As Orthodox Christians, this is our chance to live in a very real and tangible way the teachings of the Gospel.
“The Christmas season is no greater time than to remember children and those less fortunate, it is our call to live the scriptural verse, “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will repay him for his deed.” (Proverbs 19:17)
“Let us support and love our neighbours this Christmas. We cannot overlook that Jesus Christ too was a baby and a child before He went on to His ministry of preaching, it gives honour to Him that we help children to get to school in 2022.”
The GoFundMe website address for those wishing to donate to the fundraiser is: https://bit.ly/3D9IkbR
About St. Tabitha’s Orphanage / Children’s Home
St. Tabitha’s in Fiji is under the spiritual guidance of His Eminence Metropolitan Myron of the Greek Orthodox Church in New Zealand. It offers a holistic approach to children’s development, catering for the physical, social, emotional, spiritual, and cognitive development of almost 30 children and youth. It provides stability, love, care, education, and a moral upbringing to orphaned and at-risk children in a safe and secure home type environment.
Paradise4kids In Australia is proud to be a full volunteer charity. No one draws a salary or profits financially. It operates under HADA – Health & Development Aid Abroad Fund Inc Charity No. 1273. Paradise 4 Kids-FIJI focuses its support on the ground in Fiji and financially supports the educational outcomes of St Tabitha’s children.
Individuals and businesses wishing to donate can message the charity through the contact form on their website to receive a copy of a tax deductible receipt.
For further information and to stay up to date, please visit:
> Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/P4K.FIJI
> Website: https://paradise4kids.org/st-tabitha-orphanage-fiji/