Think Water Promised, Think Water Delivered
When our store owners voted on Fiji as the venue for our 2018 conference, most were thinking of white beaches, crystal clear warm water and palm trees, not the impact we would make on the locals. What we ended up with was not only a world class conference location, but also the chance to collectively improve the lives of some local children with our 2018 Think Aid project. While the conference was our main focus for the trip, it was the Think Aid project that ended up as the highlight for many. Having the privilege to make a difference to this community was very special.
Working with the Shangri-La Fijian Resort we identified two local schools that relied heavily on existing water infrastructure, which cannot guarantee a continual supply. The first step was to put the call out to our stores, customers and Preferred Suppliers which resulted in generous donations to get the project underway. Philmac, Vinidex and sister company Marley (NZ) offered a huge range of rain water harvesting products, AIP donated taps, Solo NZ and Clayton donated a generator, and Davey a deep well pump to install in the local river. The stores also collected several pallets of books to be shared between the local schools. The team also decided to collect donations to be used to fund supplies of special reusable ladies’ sanitary products. These products were bought from Mama’s Laef – a company based in Vanuatu who produce washable sanitary pad kits that last for 2-3 years. To complete the donations, Philmac and Vinidex delivered 50 rugby balls to each school.
We asked our Think Water stores, Preferred Suppliers and any spare family members attending the conference to arrive a day early and donate their time to our Think Aid project. While “Island Time” delivery of some of the donated products added a second morning to our project at the end of the week, the biggest challenge we faced was the management of these 2 projects with over 90 people assisting over the Monday and Friday mornings. The task of managing our enthusiastic volunteers was successful largely as a result of using the software Think Water introduced with our Project Management system. On arriving at the schools, the groups split into designated groups to work on individual projects. With limited tools available, there was plenty of ingenuity and bush mechanic skills on display resulting in two successfully completed Think Aid projects.
Ratu Iliasi is a local school with 110 students where we successfully fitted 30m of new guttering to the main building and repaired the existing tanks expanding their rain water harvesting by more than 30,000L and fitted a pump to the local river to service the toilets. These were both a a back up to the inconsistent town water supply.
Nadroumai school also has just over 100 students with 50 of those boarding at the school during the week. The team repaired 25m of guttering and 5
resurrected 3 damaged rainwater tanks increasing their catchment by 20,000L. This school had an existing bore pump as the primary water supply which could be out of action for weeks during frequent power cuts, so we fitted a generator to ensure water at any time. We also took this opportunity to repair the showers and carpet the girls’ boarding room. The 35 young ladies that sleep in the boarding room were so ecstatic that their concrete floor had been covered with carpet that they were going to sleep on the floor that night!
With the books on the library shelves, water supplies now reliable and carpet laid the last task was to show the local girls on how to use the 100 Mammas Laef kits that were donated. While the work was getting done there was plenty of reading, singing and games with the kids and some great bonds were formed. A few of the blokes were ushered into the Chief’s room at Ratu Iliasi and had the honour of a Kava ceremony – luckily they didn’t have to drive the bus back to the resort!
While it was clear that the Think Aid project had made a difference to these local schools, most agreed that the real difference was the effect these kids had on us. Think Water’s Phil Best was so impressed by the team’s generosity he decided to continue to raise money at our beach party by asking for donations supporting him on a marathon (well, 200m – but it was at night!) swim. I don’t know if the most money was raised supporting his swim or paying him to keep his clothes on, but the funds have since doubled. This will allow Think Water to continue to supply the Mama’s Laef kits to the surrounding schools.
Think Aid’s funding page will continue to operate with donations used to fund future supply of Mama’s Laef kits to young ladies at the Fijian schools. You can donate at on the www.gofundme.com page and search for Think Water, where our project page is listed as Loganholme, Qld.
Helping communities in Fiji access safe drinking water
100% of donations will go directly to the project