Golden Oldies Missions completed their 11-day mission by visiting churches, schools, hospitals, a prison, an orphanage, villages and squatter settlements around Suva. The team has now also supported 11 churches in Fiji.
The team and their supporters donated 300kg of goods and purchased specialist medical equipment from the donations received.
There are a number of on-going partnership projects continuing and being established to support the Fijian people.
We are looking to increase the number of our mission trips in 2024.
Partnering with our heartland Fijian people, engaging in places not advertised on tourist brochures makes our mission trips unique, humbling and inspiring.
Vinaka vakalevu to everyone involved with these Golden Oldies Missions. Golden Oldies Team Leaders: Graeme, Jane, Amy, Caroline, Dean, Emily, Miria, Sandra, Wendy and Ali (our Bus Driver!)
Men in many of the squatter settlements are under-employed. Occasionally they get casual employment, otherwise they rely on their cropping and fishing.
“We would like a more jobs, but no one will employ us” they say. Talking with the men, one idea was to make coffins!
“When someone dies, we all have to find the money from our village to pay for a coffin which is really expensive”.
Golden Oldies are keen to explore this and in discussions with a local NZ Menz Shed, are going to develop coffin building plan templates, and then plan to run training sessions for the men in Fiji to start making coffins in their villages.
It is hoped to also establish a villages cooperative for the men to build coffins at their own churches in the villages and then utilise one of their churches that is site adjacent to a main highway to be their coffin sales base for everyone.
Churches are keen to find revenues to employ ministers to support their Christian faith in their villages. They have wondered about fish farming as a small business option.
Recently Golden Oldies were introduced to a NZ-born Marine Biologist who has lived in Fiji for 25-years. His passion? Developing fish farms for villages.
A Golden Oldies couple recently spent an afternoon with him and were intrigued to learn that by just looking at a pond and its ‘depth of green’ it can tell how much food there is in the water for fish to eat!
Now Golden Oldies are planning to further research this project and develop a ‘Research Pond’ to learn the fish farming skills that can then be taught to other Fijians in their villages to help them generate funds to employ Church ministers.
On a recent trip to Fiji a couple of Golden Oldies were travelling from Suva airport to their homebase at the orphanage. They were discussing some of the on-going challenges with the mud brick composition. It seemed a bit crumbly. How do we resolve this?
Of all the 1,000’s of taxi drivers in Fiji, Mr Taxi Driver intervened into our chat, stating he is also a University Lecturer at the Fiji University and specialises in testing brick compositions for strength with his students!
Golden Oldies have taken up his offer to partner with Fijian University Lecturers and PhD students to provide on-going research to improve brick strength. Initially they’re going to test a diverse range of additives for the mud bricks for strengthening including waste stream materials like sugar cane husk as an additive and an alternative to sand.
Golden Oldies have been researching the dream of providing alternative and affordable housing for marginalised Fijians. Those living in tin houses are susceptible to the monsoon rains, cyclones and now climate change. Climate refugees needing to resettle on ground above the shoreline.
Developing countries embrace mud-brick housing but it has never been trialled in Fiji.
Team members and Fijians have now produced 6,000 mud bricks and had them scientifically tested to prove that surpass the building code for strength. Now we are in the final stages of planning before we start building the first ever culturally adapted design Fijian house made with mud bricks.
Travelling in Fijian longboats down the largest flood-prone river in the Suva region, past virgin bush and mangroves plantations was a real adventure for the Golden Oldies team. It felt like they were navigating the Amazon with its isolation and many tributaries joining the muddy river as it made its way to the coast.
The team were visiting a remote primary school. It was the first time this school had hosted overseas visitors. The students had prepared a cultural music and dance ensemble and the team reciprocated with performing a ‘meke’ for them -where the Golden Oldies presented the school and village with a roll of material that they then wrapped around the children to embrace a sense of partnership between both groups.
Finally, the team donated education materials and of course, more sports equipment.
In fact, the balls were already out on the field being used before the team finally left the village!
‘White’ Golden Oldies escorted into a remote squatter village are a novelty to the children. They don’t host outside visitors, but the Golden Oldies are different, they are known friends, returning again for the first time since the covid lockdown.
Sunday school story books and bibles are distributed to the children and suddenly games and singing echo around the village as everyone celebrates the close bond between the team and this village.
A 24/7 Health centre with 5 A&E beds, Maternity hospital catering for an average of 3 births/day (with no pain relief available), and a nearby rural 10-bed hospital and outpatients building, all combined together cater for 80,000 Fijians.
Every year Golden Oldies return with donated medical supplies and fundraised money to buy medical equipment to support the team here.
However, it was evident from the scarcity of resources and the desperate cry of the doctors that a key piece of medical equipment was urgently needed.
‘Vitals’ machines provide immediate diagnostic information for doctors and nurses. They have a total of 2 for all their facilities, like sharing it with the labour ward and A&E beds!
Prayerfully the Golden Oldies are now looking to fundraise to supply a minimum of 10 Vital machines to encourage the staff to feel valued and together we can all help to provide care for their patients, and those new babies born daily.
‘The Grand Old Lady’ as the Fijians call her is the Colonial Hotel recently lovingly restored in Suva. The Golden Oldies felt like ‘Lords and Ladies’ as they were treated to an escorted tour, learning about its history and famous guests staying there, and culminated with a GRAND ‘High Tea’!