January 2021 – On Monday, 18 January, students in the Nacula District began a new year at school after the Christmas holidays. What is usually an exciting time with fresh faces and supplies was overshadowed by the crippling effects of COVID-19 on Fiji’s tourism industry, coupled with the destruction of tropical Cyclone Yasa. Nearing 12 months of unemployment for many parents in the tourism reliant Nacula region, many families questioned whether they would be able to send their children back to school with adequate supplies.
To help support these families, Turtle Island Resort donated $10,000 worth of essential school supplies to support the 342 school children in the Nacula region for the entire year. Turtle Island staff wrapped stationery packages for each child which included notebooks, pens, coloured pencils, erasers, sharpeners, glue sticks, binders and rulers. On the first day back, staff from the resort with the help of the Nanuya Express boat delivered the supplies to each of the 4 schools in the community – Nasomolevu Catholic School, Navotua Infant School, Ratu Meli Memorial School, and Yaqeta Village School.
Richard Evanson Jr, Managing Director and CEO of Turtle Island Resort said, “We could only imagine the concerns every parent would have faced about how they will provide the educational tools and supplies their children needed, when many have gone without paid work for close to 12 months. Having gone to school here in the local community throughout my primary school years, and having lived here my whole life, we know these families, many on a personal level. We couldn’t just sit back and do nothing. We’ve always believed that if you’re in a position to help, you should. Given the impacts of this crisis on our own business, we’ve certainly had to think of creative ways to assist others.”
In addition to the assistance given on Monday, Turtle Island has been supporting its local community in any way possible since the global pandemic as many families have gone without work for close to a year. Efforts have included opening up a bartering system with the villages as a means for acquiring fuel and food items and supplying over $75,000 worth of essential food supplies and fishing and farming equipment to the families as part of the resort’s Covid-19 food relief initiative. The funds were raised thanks to generous donations from Turtle Island Resort guests to help alleviate food insecurity for over 370 families in the local community.
With the recent donation of school supplies, Evanson Jr said, “We realize the importance of continuing to invest in the education of our local community, because things will improve, and we don’t want to have allowed our children to have fallen behind as a result of this pandemic”.