VILLAGERS of Serua Island converged on the island last Saturday to raise money for the village's development projects.
The first project earmarked to be tended by the end of the year is their depleted water storage tank, built in the 1880s and has been deemed unsafe to use.
About 400 villagers from the 10 clans of the yavusa Korolevu - those residing on the island and those from mainland, including spouses, attended their soli day - themed Na ledu rara vaviagwane, me du maroroi jia (To embrace, protect and preserve our chiefly island).
While there was feasting and dancing, the objective was clear, evident from the $19,207.95 raised on the day.
"The purpose of this event is to raise funds in order to facilitate the village's development goals," Ratu Aseri Deinavanua, the son of the Vunivalu Ratu Peni Latianara, said.
"One such project is the reconstruction of the depleted water storage tank. There have been other struggles and challenges faced over the years, which has raised concerns and we felt the need to raise funds in order to finance these projects. Everyone's contribution today will not only assist in the fulfilment of our objectives but a reassurance for a better and resilient Serua."
Serua Island Development Committee secretary Leona Frances Latianara said it had been four years since they held a fundraising drive to raise money for the chiefly island's development goals.
She said there were other obligations to meet - such as the provincial levy that is due in September, development plans for women and children, and the scholarship funds for their children pursuing higher education.
"This event has also brought families together. This is the first time some clan members and families are meeting each other so they have come to know each other," she said.
"The way we programmed the event came out really well and that is the main message we wanted to convey - that they must be patriotic about their vanua."
Officials from the Elections Office, Fiji National Provident Fund, Family and Reproductive Health, Fiji Volleyball Federation and banks including Westpac, BSP and ANZ were also available on the day to respond to queries and register people for those services.