Thousands of generous young Australians have contributed supplies to the biggest private donation for Tropical Cyclone Winston relief, in the wake of the largest recorded cyclone to hit Fiji earlier this year. Up to 350,000 people and hundreds of homes were affected by the tragedy.
The donation drive was initiated by Unleashed Travel, Australia’s leading provider of overseas travel packages for school leavers, with the shipment arriving in Fiji yesterday.
A donation base camp run by Unleashed Travel and not-for-profit organisation Spirit of Sharing will be open to Fijian residents from 7-12 near Nadi and will then travel to remote communities.
Unleashed Travel have organised a total of five 40ft shipping containers filled with donations of clothing, bedding, kitchen items and non-perishable food that were shipped to the Fijian capital of Suva following a call for contributions from Unleashed Travel’s network of 15,000 members.
“It’s been over two months since the devastation of Cyclone Winston, but the huge rebuilding task for Fiji is still very real. We’ve had a close connection to Fiji for some years through our group trips and work with Spirit of Sharing, so we felt compelled to do more to help,” says Jot Lynas, Managing Director of Unleashed Travel.
Lynas continues, “The response to our callout was incredible. We started storing the donations at Unleashed Travel headquarters and quickly realised how passionate Australians are about supporting their Fijian friends. There were so many items that we had to create pathways to get in and out of our office!”
Word of the initiative spread beyond Unleashed Travel’s immediate network and the company received a call from an international furniture retailer with the offer to donate flat pack kitchens. Three shipping containers filled with 600 kitchens were added to the donations from the public, which also included 11 cartons of clothing from clothing brand Zanerobe.
The donation was organised in partnership with Spirit of Sharing. Peter Cole, Chairman of Spirit of Sharing says, “Unleashed Travel has been a valued partner for more than a decade. During this period, they have donated in excess of $100,000 to help fund our youth sporting programs in the Asia Pacific region. It has been their response in time of crisis, though, that has shown the true strength of the partnership. We are very fortunate to have the support of Unleashed Travel.”
A ceremony of appreciation will be held on Monday 9 May from 10am local time in Nadi where the President of Fiji, Minister of Youth and Sport, and Permanent Secretary of Youth and Sport will be in attendance.
There is still an opportunity to support fundraising efforts for Tropical Cyclone Winston relief via www.chuffed.org/project/fiji-