Chance encounter leads to eight years of service

A FRIENDLY chat on a plane ride from Tonga to Fiji many years ago has resulted in eight years of community work by American volunteers.

The volunteers, who are students of Fresno State University in California, have been visiting villages in Saqani, Cakaudrove since 2010.

Initiated and facilitated by UK-based Madventure International, the students have helped build village halls and kitchens, helped out in hospitals by working alongside local health workers and assisted in medical checks in rural remote areas.

John Lawler, founder and chief of Madventure International, said a company executive met an iTaukei man on the flight and they discussed Fiji, its friendly people and their hospitality.

“Our executive visited this friend and they were at Lautoka together and ever since that time, we have brought university students over to help the locals,” he said.

“We have helped out a lot at Naboutini Village in Saqani which included the construction of toilets and water system.

“And since then, we have come back to Fiji to help the villagers and this project has attracted students from the university to come back every year.”

Mr Lawler said the nursing students who had been part of the team had helped with medical needs in the village.

Team member Kathi Rindahl said three years ago they visited Lakeba Village where nursing students conducted medical checks.

“And after that, we had more villagers coming over to see us for other medical needs and it’s encouraging because they are in remote areas so helping them has been wonderful.”

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