President's Report 2000
The year 2000 brings to us a mixture of good and bad and the Fiji Geelong Friendship Club has gone through tough times, not only we here in Geelong, Australia but more so in Fiji after the 19th of May with the political unrest.
In February we are asked to accommodate a Deakin student, Mereani Vakacegu who was starting studies in Geelong. The request came from the Footscray church folk and from her father in Suva. We helped with her visa difficulties also. Our club has paid for part of her boarding with the Ratawa family.
As usual we participated in the Pako Festa with a stall and organising a dance group and joined in the parade. The usual difficulty occurred again - we have so few helpers on that day and there is a conflict in looking after the Pako events and hosting the group from Melbourne afterwards. The Footscray group led by Sailosi Koto are part of our team and they have offered to look after the Pako stall for next year as part of their fund-raising to take a choir to Fiji next August.
In the time of bereavement the club assisted the Ratawa family with a cheque and also with catering for the feast after the Memorial service for Robin. (40 days). Wendy wants to thank our members for their kindness during this difficult time especially Alana, Joy, Selai, Ken, Ema, David and Joe Cordone.
Fijian language classes have been held on Friday evenings with three students using Class One and Two books etc
Only one couple went to Fiji Day this year, Ken and Selai.
The Rotary Club Donation in Kind sent containers to Ba and Suva this past year and some of our members helped with sorting and packing, phone calls and contacts. I made a special visit to Fiji after the coup, helped by the East Geelong Uniting Church Parish and was able to visit churches and Rotary projects in Labasa, Suva, and Ba. Dr. Eka Buadromo while in Geelong helped sort out medical equipment and give advice.
The Captain Cook ship comes into Geelong every month and Alan Wise spends much of his time assisting the Fijian crew with shopping etc. We helped them with advice about purchasing computers, etc.
Once again the Hungerbusters program gave out bread and buns etc. from the Lara Bakerís Delight, and our part was in organising the Sunday roster.
Our group is represented on the Pako committee this year and also the Ethnic Communities Council.
Because we are the only incorporated group relating to Fijian people in Victoria I get phone calls asking for contacts, dance-groups, etc. Some of the requests are beyond our resources.
The Multicultural Commission in Melbourne assisted us with two grants this year, one for administration and one to run a program on drama, which is still ahead of us. The Geelong City Council gave us a grant to publish postcards and books relating to the International Year of the Culture of Peace, and this project is up and running with the books to come out before Christmas. This involved contacting Fiji writers as well as Geelong writers.
Most of our activities have been informal, such as meals to welcome overseas visitors, and I wish to thank our members for their help during the year, particularly in the time of crisis we experienced.