Fiona Luth reports on the moving impact of her special cause.
By Fiona Luth
When someone turns to you and says with great sincerity: ‘God, he knows what you are doing, Fiona’, it touches your heart. According to the Fijian teachers and parents of the schools the Fiji Book Drive has helped, God is showering me and my family with many blessings.
Fiji Book Drive has established 35 libraries and resourced 21 kindergartens in the last five-and-a-half years. These books have been mostly ‘weeded out’ library books and from book drives I run in schools. So far, about 40,000 books have been sent to Fiji – mostly to the fourth biggest island, Kadavu. Although I’ve had free freighting up until now, the rest of this has been unfunded.
My greatest reward is seeing the school children read these books. To see the delight in a child’s face when they open a pop-up book for the first time is priceless. Teacher morale has improved in many of the schools. Some secondary school teachers have remarked that they would rather teach the now well resourced primary schools.
One parent pulled her child out of a school in Suva (the capital of Fiji) to have him educated in her remote village school. Kindergartens that have had massive resource boosts from the Fiji Book Drive have reported that children now want to attend kindergarten on the weekend. Parents helping unpack the boxes of resources wistfully commented that they wished they could return to kindergarten.
Since the article on Fiji Book Drive on the Independent Schools Victoria Parents’ Website last year, significant growth has happened. The organisation has been granted charity status, has gained tax deductibility and shored up the free use of two warehouse spaces. One of the biggest blessings to come Fiji Book Drive’s way has been the pro bono services of law firm Clayton Utz. Rod Lyle of Clayton Utz has been a major supporter, advisor and benefactor to Fiji Book Drive. (Rod is also an ISV Board Member).
A woman read about Fiji Book Drive’s work in the Independent Schools Victoria article last year. Her name is Debbie Hall. Debbie and her husband Glenn have been wonderful spreading the word about donations and collecting them for the warehouse in South Dandenong.
Volunteerism such as this is an enormous help as I cannot physically collect more than 20,000 books and parent three children, including a three-year-old.
A friend approached me asking if she could do her Masters research project on the impact Fiji Book Drive is having. She will travel to Fiji in March with me to carry out a formal academic study on the impact the donations are having. These are just some of many exciting developments that are happening for the organisation.
The gratitude of the Fijians is palpable. When we are garlanded, sung to by school children, prayed for and blessed many times over, this feel like the best possible payment for my work.
If you wish to volunteer to donate, pack or collect books, please contact Fiona at email@example.com
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