COVID-19: Kiwi couple distribute food and hygiene packs

Ecotrax Fiji owners Howard and Mandy De Vries with staff hand over some groceries to Malomalo villagers in Sigatoka. Picture: SUPPLIED

Despite being out of business for more than three weeks, Ecotrax Fiji owners Howard and Mandy De Vries have spent their time helping nearby communities.

The Kiwis, whose business uses 11km of the cane rail tracks in Malomalo district, Sigatoka, have been using the railway system to deliver food and hygiene products to villagers.

Managing director Mandy De Vries said they did that to ensure villagers did not venture into town.

“It’s our way of promoting social distancing and encourage villagers to stay within their bubbles,” she said.

“While we commend the Government for doing their best in securing our borders, it is very unfortunate to see some people here not following these simple rules. So to help our community here in the Malomalo area we wanted to offer them basic hygiene packs and groceries that they may need.

“Even though our business came to an official close on March 15 and we’ve had to lay off 16 of our staff members, making sure that our community is staying safe and healthy is still one of our main priorities.”

She said the couple decided to stay in Fiji while other New Zealanders left the country last month.

“We genuinely love and care about the people of Fiji and we hope to continue to help in whatever way we can.

“I’m hoping to open a ‘give a little’ website that could bring together people who would like to help us with our work.

“We have a lot of previous guests who have been asking us how they could help during these trying times.”

Malomalo Village headman Semi Tanikili said they were grateful to the couple and their staff members for their support.

“This is a very difficult time for us especially for some of our villagers who have been at home after their resorts closed,” Mr Tanikili said.

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