In Fiji, ‘Bula’ is more than just a greeting. It is a wish for happiness, good health, and the energy of life. Fijians are known for being rich with the ‘Bula Spirit’ and their desire to help through acts of kindness and generosity.
The international travel restrictions that have arisen from the Covid-19 pandemic have caused considerable disruptions across Fiji, and as tourism is one of the most important economic drivers for Fiji, (making up nearly 40% of Fiji’s GDP), the industry has been affected, however the infectious Bula Spirit remains strong.
While Fiji is continuing to look after Fiji’s sandbanks, rainforests, sand dunes, coral reefs, waterfalls, rivers and dense wildlife for the world to explore again when the time is right, it is during these trying times that Fiji is using the ‘Bula Spirit’ to work together and look after one another.
So, for now, Fiji says “Sota tale…stay safe and see you soon” to the rest of the world, they continue to focus on sharing their ‘Bula Spirit’ throughout local communities.
1. Barter for Better Fiji turning into nationwide humanitarian movement
A Facebook group known as Barter for Better Fiji was started during the Covid-19 pandemic as a way for Fijians who are now short on cash to still collect items they need, with now almost 15% of the entire country using the platform. Fijians have gone above and beyond in showing acts of kindness:
- A single mother requesting tamarind to start a small baking business has received a brand new stove, a full cylinder of gas and bags of groceries.
- A former resort worker was in need of baby essentials and offered to trade in her school textbooks; the baby essentials were delivered and the textbooks were refused.
- A taxi driver is offering free taxi rides for those doing good deeds - she recently gave multiple rides at her own expense to a group of locals organising donated goods to Lau.
- A young woman is baking over 30 dozen cupcakes a day in exchange for donated groceriesthat she will distribute to remote villages in Kadavu.
2. Marriott Fiji is giving back to their staff and communities
Five Marriott International Fiji Resorts - The Westin Denarau Fiji Resort & Spa, Sheraton Fiji Resort, Sheraton Denarau Villas, Sheraton Tokariki and Marriott Momi Bay Fiji - have teamed together to set up the “Solia Lesu” (Fijian for “Give Back”) by Marriott #giveback foundation.
The Resorts are working together to provide meals to their staff and communities, giving interest free FJ$100 per week loans to staff and donating mattresses and linen for mandated quarantine areas.
3. Rise Beyond the Reef gets creative in helping remote villages
Janet Lotawa, Co-Founder and Director of Rise Beyond the Reef, has turned her non-profit organisation that helps Fijians become income earners through community made crafts (tote bags, rugs, jewellery) to now make affordable fabric protective face shields for communities and organisations, along with distributing to families in need so that medical grade masks remain available for their healthcare workers, as this supply is extremely limited.
She is also rolling out “farm food banks” with the support of ANZ Bank Staff Foundation, which creates a communal space to raise seedlings and mass propagate a diverse range of root and vegetable crops for consumption.
The Farm Food Bank over time, provides planting material to individual women and their households to help bolster food security.
4. Volivoli Beach Resort training locals to be dive certified
Two Kiwi brothers Steve and Nick Darling who run VoliVoli Beach Resort and Ra Divers in the Suncoast have started a diving internship programme to help shape the lives of locals in Rakiraki.
Once the locals are certified, they will be able to assist Ra Divers in important marine conservation work in the Bligh Water and continue their careers in this field of work.
5. The Pearl Pacific Resort provides a home away from home for essential workers
During curfew and social distancing regulations to help Fiji combat Covid-19, The Pearl Pacific Resort is offering free accommodation for Police Special Response Units in the Pacific Harbour region.
This allows the team to have a safe place to quarantine without putting their own families at risk.
The team at The Pearl Pacific resort are also spending their days distributing food packs to local communities.
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