Fiji cyclone fundraisers blown away by diocese donations

When Cyclone Winston tore through Fiji on February 20, it was the strongest and most damaging cyclone that had ever swept through the island nation.

Shocked by vision of the destroyed villages and people living under tarps, Rosie Frecklington was inspired to get involved in raising funds and approached the Vicar General, Father Paul Devitt about raising money within the Orange parish to help pay for some of the cost of freighting the goods across the Pacific.

Father Devitt decided the project was such a good idea that he mentioned it to Bishop Michael McKenna, who also supportive the initiative.

“With the 17 parishes in the Bathurst Diocese involved, we were able to raise $22,218.75 in just three weeks,” Mrs Frecklington said "I was blown away by the kind hearts of the people in Orange, and across the Diocese.”

When the final amount was tallied, they came to realise we had enough to fund our own container full of assistance.

“We had so much money that we could put together 50 boxes and send them to Fiji all on our own, including the container and freight,” Mrs Frecklington said.

Purchasing the goods in Orange and then freighting them to Brisbane would have added an extra, substantial cost, so Mrs Frecklington and her husband Barry, along with David and Val Frecklington, travelled to Brisbane to purchase everything they needed there.

Fifty two room tents, 100 sets of double and single doonas, full crockery and cutlery sets, towels, cookware and implements, and sundry other items including 50 toothbrushes that were donated by Target were packed into the 50 removalist’s boxes.

The container took 10 days to arrive in Fiji and unpacking began on April 24. 

“Right now the packages are being distributed to families thanks to the overwhelming support of the people of the Bathurst diocese,” Mrs Frecklington said.

At the end of April, The Fijian Times reported that more than 50 families were extremely thankful when relief supplies were distributed to them all the way from Australia.

Marama Yee, who led the group to distribute the supplies, said the "The donations came from the Catholic Diocese of Bathurst, NSW, from the Cleveland Uniting Church and the Lions Club of East Brisbane and the community," said Mrs Yee.

The areas visited were Koronubu Field 2 and Vunibaka Settlement as well as the Veilomani Home in Namosau, Ba.

"We are extremely happy," said Verenaisi Tuwai of Koronubu Settlement, "We lost everything to TC Winston, nothing was saved. When we received this today we couldn't believe it. It's all brand-new and they've given us the very things that we needed the most. All I can say is thank you very much to these wonderful people."

Courtesy: Mark Logan, Central Western Daily and Fijian Times

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