Vinaka vakalevu (thank you very much) for Project 2, says Performers4Poverty dynamo – now let’s do Project 3

Posted on Thursday, November 19th, 2009 at 2:58 pm in

One hundred items of furniture for Vugalei School and 256 boxes of gifts, benefitting thousands of poverty-wracked Fijians later, Performers4Poverty, the Auckland initiative supported by the local music and entertainment industry, is starting to have a significant, positive effect on the lives of needy Fijians – having successfully completed its second project.

To add to their euphoria, when an exhausted team returned to Auckland, they were greeted with many emails and phone messages offering more donations for Fijian schools and hospitals – confirming that P4P is now an established outreach programme in the eyes of New Zealanders.

“So, Project 3 is already underway, without us even trying!  Our next trip is planned for April 2008 and we will be again taking toys, books, shoes, school supplies and medical equipment, and gear for a few other specific needs we are aiming to meet next time,” says Annie Hensby, an Auckland-based impresario and the dynamic leader of this non-partisan response to poverty in Fiji.

P4P is certainly earning the earlier New Zealand Herald tag-line of being our own version of Sir Bob Geldoff and Bono’s ‘War on Poverty’. In recent months a trust has been set up with financial support from, Tim Manning, one of New Zealand and the South Pacific’s leading property developers and legendary All Black winger and the man universally recognised as the best rugby ’Sevens’ player ever – and general ‘good guy’ – Eric Rush.
He and Manning have a business relationship through Pacific Islands Partnership: their first joint project back in 2006 was to develop a resort on Viti Levu.

Tim sponsored the initial Fijian project from the get-go at the end of 2006 – and has been involved ever since paying for Annie and her Fiji-born partner, Kavai Velavela to travel with an enormous quantity of donated goods.

“I was impressed with her enormous energy and drive in getting a host of performers to give their time and money to the Fijian cause. Obviously, I knew of the real needs their and how hard it would be to co-ordinate her efforts,” says Tim, who also covered all their additional costs, such as truck hire, accommodation, meals, transport etc. too.

“I was really concerned all the great effort everyone had made in getting needed goods together would reach the kids they were intended for, so I felt it was best for her to be on the ground, see the impact of Aucklanders’ generosity, as well as get an idea of where the initiative could go to.
“For the first time in my life, I completely under-estimated the power of good that really motivated people could accomplish,” adds Manning, who continues to offer guidance and financial support to, as he puts it “harness their energy and drive to help those truly needy kids.”
“Fiji and its people continue to be very close to my heart.”

Since then he and his team meet regularly with P4P and advise on legal, financial, organisational and other key areas.
Manning also welcomed the appointment of a Fijian representative, Lusio Tauvoli, from Wainunu, a village in Suva, which was assisted during Project One – and who has since been indispensible as P4P’s “person–on-the-spot”. He will have the important role of preparing paperwork and arrangements prior to subsequent project visits.

Lusio, who impressed the team during a previous visit by taking time off to facilitate their task,  had to step in on Project 2 when delays meant that the Auckland team had to leave before all the deliveries had been made.

“Due to delays in the container arriving and the paperwork being released to us, we had to rearrange the distribution, as we didn’t have enough time to travel to remote islands. However, all the gifts found their final destinations in very needy places.

“The medical supplies were delivered to Suva Hospital and Carpenters Shipping kindly stored the boxes for the Fiji Education Department to collect. Although we could not get out to all the islands we intended to go to, two ladies at the Sofitel Hotel were came to our rescue — Wati from Tavua Island accepted our gifts for her people and will transport them over to her village shortly, while Laisa from Naviti accepted gifts to distribute in Naviti and also Navala – a very needy village in the interior,” says Annie.

A school teacher in Lautoka, also directed the team to the most needy schools and villages on the outskirts of Nadi town, where they were very warmly welcomed.

Inevitably, Annie found more need as she distributed her packages.

“At one of these schools, we learnt from a teacher about a small three-year-old boy, who has an untreated head injury which, so far, has resulted in one eye becoming blind – and the other is beginning to fail.

“We went to visit the family to hear more and to see if P4P could help in any way.  We took some boxes of clothing for them to sell in town to fund-raise for the necessary operation, as they live in a tin shack village and have very little,” Annie reports.

You can rest assured she will not leave it there – and an Auckland surgeon is already examining the documentation and medical records. As Annie says: “Watch this space”.

One of the team’s highlights was a trip into the interior to an extremely remote village.

Annie recalls: “It was a very moving and extremely humbling experience.  An hour-and-a-half of dirt track roads, in extreme heat, through the forests and up into the mountains, where we were greeted by beautiful people who have nothing and yet gave us so much.
“They prepared a feast for us of banana, cassava, coconut milk soup and a chicken, all very delicious and yet hard to eat because of the emotional lumps in our throats.

“The children of that village (as all the children have been) were overwhelmed by the toys and shoes and gifts – and the boarding school they attend (to which they must walk a three-hour-long-track over the mountain each week) were delighted with their resources and books.
“It’s moments like that which confirm that the work we are doing with fund-raising through special concerts and events, and direct appeals to performers themselves, throughout New Zealand, is really important to hundreds of lives.”

The word on P4P is getting about the islands too, so she has just received a “wish List” from one of the P4P-supported schools in Fiji, which includes musical instruments. They are a school of 300, without a single musical instrument!

Needless to say, that did not sit well with Ms Hensby and she is already in contact with supporters who no longer use or are about to replace any instrument to make contact and, if they are in Auckland and the instrument will fit in a car, she will scoop it up.

The Blockhouse Bay, single mum, who heads up Purple Productions when she’s not focused on Fiji’s youngsters, has proven herself equally adept at raising funds. A “Night of Comedy” – played to a packed house at the Classic Comedy Club, in downtown Auckland, with the venue owners, and the five starring comedians not charging a fee, it proved a great financial boost too for the registered charitable trust dedicated to supporting children living in severely poverty-stricken villages in rural Fiji.

Since then big acts like GOLDENHORSE, MC T.R.E.Y , the Plops, Mark Weir, Ishtar and others have all lined up to help as well.

Right now her major focus is Project 3.

“If any of you have access to lino, toilet seats, paper, classroom posters, pens, packing tape, first aid kits, educational toys and baby care supplies, sports equipment, wet-weather gear, we would be most grateful to receive these in addition to the previously mentioned items, for Project 3.”

Give a lot or a little, it all counts and it all helps those that cannot help themselves!

Annie Hensby — Performers 4 Poverty +6421 1179 324/ +64 9 828 5432

Look on MySpace for Performers4Poverty too:

In addition to the projects mentioned above, Performers4Poverty have provided relief supplies to the children of seven villages in the Tailevu district of the main Fiji island, Viti Levu, and the Wainunu district on Vanua Levu.

Fiji Kids

The “Gift Box” project, where classes at a local school gather items in a box to deliver to an individual child … A “Happy and Healthy” project which encourages people to donate health and first-aid items and the “Save a School” project, which collects old resources, books, furniture and office equipment from schools in NZ, are all projects that can be undertaken to support P4P.

Remember: The price of a beer can buy a first ever book for a 12 year old, the price of a packet of fags, a pair of shoes for a teen that’s never owned any … and for the price of a bucket of KFC, you could revolutionise life for a family in a remote, poverty stricken village … or for just a quarter of your weeks income, you could put books, paper, pens, posters and teaching resources into a school that currently has nothing!

This article was made possible for the NZ Property Monitor by Timothy Terence Manning

See also: Developer Tim Manning helps fund aid to Fiji’s poor – NZ Herald Article Jan 30 2007
See also: NZ Developer Provides Fijian Poverty Relief – April 16 2007