If you read this piece and are wondering why philanthropy must go hand in hand with entrepreneurship, business and your social footprint (always), in whatever format works for you, I wanted to share what some of the most EXTRAORDINARY people I know have helped me achieve in the last three months.
700kg of school and education material has landed in Fiji as part of an initiative I created in September after the devastation I saw post Cyclone Winston, “RakiRaki Schools Initiative”
Entrepreneurs seek to find solutions, outcomes and impact.
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.
Goods include furniture, stationary, reading books, educational toys and the time and energy taken by those to make calls, freight goods, store goods, transport things. It’s been not only a privilege to work with such values aligned people, but to have a spirit of generosity from all corners of business and life extended.
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 entrepreneur from Wagga Wagga,(regional NSW), 350kg of stationary from Pelikan, furniture from B Seated Global and much much more. 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.
I’d like you to read the letter I’ve written for the donors because they are the heroes. I am providing a lovo (traditional Fijian lunch cooked in the ground – yes, yum!) tomorrow on the island of Nananu-i-ra, and will welcome the Minister of Education, Heritage and Arts, two village chiefs, two village elders, three school principals and three head teachers, along with the owner of Safari Lodge, my family and locals dedicating their time and effort to make the lovo.
Tomorrow we feast, and tomorrow 600 school children have the right to world class education again.
As they say in Fiji – vinaka vakelevu
Bula and good afternoon Minister, VIPs, chiefs, elders, principals, teachers, friends and family,
Welcome to the RakiRaki Schools Donor Lunch.
After visiting RakiRaki in September 2016, I was saddened and devastated to learn the foundation of education and was destroyed in the region. 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.
From a Ministry press release (11th August 2016), on International Youth Day, the Minister says “We believe that investment in education is investment for a prosperous future Fiji. Youths are of course the backbone of our country and the Bainimarama Government wants to ensure that Fiji’s future is full of hope and opportunities. A knowledge based society is where individuals are able to rise above variables of differences like, religion and ethnicity and make decisions based on logic and reasoning for the overall benefit of all Fijians.
We want our youths to have knowledge of all factors of production, the society, accommodate others belief systems and be competent on a global scale in all facets of world-wide development.”
In October 2016 I commenced contacting and mobilizing people of influence, care, compassion and value alignment to launch an initiative to refit, restock and renew books, educational material and furniture to enable education at a world class level. I believe literacy and education is the foundation for any journey in life for youth and adults. Education encourages and enables entrepreneurship, independence, creativity, confidence and self value. It empowers a thirst for learning at the highest levels.
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. 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.
I would like to acknowledge and thank the following individuals, businesses and their teams (listed in the letter) that gave educational goods, school furniture, time, energy and effort to enable the refit and supply for three RakiRaki Schools post Cyclone Winston in February and the recent flooding of the villages.
With my warmest regards and vinaka vakelevu,
Founder and CEO Job Capital
Founder and CEO Inspiring Rare Birds Pty Ltd
Co-Founder and MD Phronesis.Academy
Bruce Haynes, Managing Director Pelikan Artline Pty Ltd – 350kg of notebooks, pens, paper and stationery
Greig Lamport, Director Kalgin Int’l Freight Services Freight – All goods from Sydney to Fiji
Michael Muehlheim, Advisor/Wealth Manager Macquarie Bank – Contact to Pelikan Artline and an ongoing mentor and supporter of Inspiring Rare Birds philanthropic initiatives
The General Manager TOTAL LOGISTICS SOLUTIONS (FIJI) LTD – Freight handling and storage in Fiji
Leah Wallace – Children’s books
Dr Richard Seymour, Co-Founder Phronesis.Academy and Head of Entrepreneurship and Innovation University of Sydney – Startup.Business Program to teach entrepreneurship in school curriculum across Fiji
Lynette Burston and friends – 4 boxes of new children’s books and games
Harriet Davies (6 years) – 3 boxes of children’s books
Danielle Klein Menachemson, Founder B Seated Global – 20 school chairs and furniture
Agustin Candusso (7 years) – 30 peace origami cranes
Wagga Wagga Library – 8 boxes of children’s books
Kate Middleton, CEO Censeo Engineering and Founder Career Oracle – School Stationery
Bronwyn Drury – Children’s books
Steven Hui, Founder Iflyflat – Children’s and adult business books
Warren Francis Owner Safari Lodge – Logistics, transport and lunch host
Zoe and Demi Burston (12yrs & 10yrs) – School stationery and children’s books
Any many many other people who anonymously dropped goods to my home.