Update: 9:30PM SEVEN HUNDRED kilos of school and education material has landed in Fiji as part of an initiative called the "RakiRaki Schools Initiative" which sought to help schools affected by Cyclone Winston in the tiny township.
The initiative which culminates with a donors lunch on Nananu-I-Ra Island off Rakiraraki tomorrow, was established by Australian entrepreneur Jo Burston.
Burston, who got into the country a few days ago is also the founder of an entrepreneurial movement called Inspiring Rare Birds which "promotes opportunities for women in entrepreneurship and has a global vision of one million women in its community by 2020."
In a post on her website today, Burston said "philanthropy must go hand in hand with entrepreneurship, business and your social footprint (always), in whatever format works for you."
Burston said entrepreneurs try to find solutions, outcomes and impact so she was moved to do something about the people of Rakiraki after learning of the impact of TC Winston.
"Forty six people died in this cyclone, schools flattened, homes washed away, and even after this devastation, just three weeks ago on my return to Fiji, torrential floods wiped the villages out again. Many left with nothing," Burston said.
"As an entrepreneur, it is easier to see solutions rather than problems, so I set myself a task to hopefully make a small and valuable contribution to your community."
The materials raised by the "Rakiraki Schools Initiative" include furniture, stationary, reading books, educational toys and the time and energy taken by those to make calls, freight goods, store goods, transport things.
Burston said it was a privilege to work with people who gave to the initiative.
"The youngest donor, just 6 years old and the oldest in their 70?s. We received thirty handmade origami cranes from a seven year old autistic entrepreneur from Wagga Wagga (regional NSW), 350kg of stationary from Pelikan, furniture from B Seated Global and much much more," Burston said.
"It goes to show that giving and compassion is timeless, ageless and border-less. All because I tapped a note to Michael Muehlheim, a Rare Birds mentor and supporter seeking his help and connections. The entire Inspiring Rare Birds community came to the foreground and I have been massively overwhelmed by the generosity and good will."
Burston said she believed literacy and education was the foundation for any journey in life for youth and adults.
"I adore the Fijian people and their culture, one of Australia's closest neighbours. I wanted to make a difference, not just for today, but for years to come," Burston said.
"I humbly bestow these goods to the Principals of the schools as custodians to ensure the next generation of Fijian children from Ellington, RakiRaki and Novalou Primary Schools have every opportunity possible to learn, be curious, thrive and lead."
Burston said the gifts would enable 600 school children to maintain the right to education again.