The Golden Oldies visited the oldest church on the main Fijian Island that has spiritual and historical significance. In all honesty, St Lawrence Church should’ve fallen down in the last cyclone, but only one wall caved in, now covered by a blue tarpaulin.
Yet the Parish people and their spirit remains committed to its cause. In particular they have a mission to help the young mothers at the local maternity hospital, but confessed to a small problem. The sewing machine they had to make blankets for the new mothers ‘has gone for a long walk’. Now ‘miraculously’ the team brought a donated sewing machine to give to a needy cause. St Lawrence seems to be this place.
Following on from here we visited this Maternity hospital and the Health Centre that we have supported for several years. The overwhelming impression was increased demand for their services, stretched resources, but a calm orderly system appeared to be working. Our Nurse Margaret, was impressed with the cleanliness of the hospitals, and the professionalism of the staff. We met the Hospital/Centre Manager, with literally hundreds of people waiting for medical attention in makeshift waiting rooms. Her passion and commitment to caring for the ‘little person’ in the region was impressive, and they were humbled with the generous gifts of medical equipment and supplies to assist them in their work.
Lunch was at Basden College and meeting the new Principal. He had spent the last year in the Interior of Fiji, teaching students in tents after the cyclones. Many houses are still not built and people remain in tents 18-months later. ‘Teaching children to pass exams in the heat of the day in tents should be demoralising’. But his students excelled and passed. This ‘culture of learning’ he has brought to Basden and it was impressive to see his expectations for student living. ‘If they don’t come to school for a week, they might as well not come to school for the year’ is the new standard. I want to train my students at school as if they are in a job. You need to learn to attend school each day, just like a job’. It was good to pray for his role and then the team spent time with students in their classrooms.
Final stop was the Government run Old People’s Home in the WW2 barracks. People usually residing here have no family, physical or mental disabilities, or dementia, and many are amputees.
Staff showed compassion and great care in facilities that are basically large rooms with no privacy for anyone. The team handed out stitched blankets sewn by Archer residents that brought smiles and heartfelt thanks from residents. Medical equipment and supplies were donated and a laptop provided to the nurses -their first. The team spent time talking and encouraging residents, praying Gods love over them.
So does any of these visits make any difference? The Fijians tell us ‘you know, it warms our hearts to see you caring for our people. Thank you for coming and giving of yourselves, and your generous donations mean a lot to us’.
Today has been a good day.