Posted by Barry Blommaart on Oct 16, 2018
From 16 to 30 June a team of Rotary volunteers travelled to Taveuni Island to add their efforts in support of an extensive construction programme being managed by the Rotary Club of Taveuni Island, Fiji.
The Taveuni club has a programme to construct over twelve school teachers houses and six twin classroom blocks at various schools around the island. This is on top of an already completed programme of 16 school teachers’ houses over the last two and a half years. To undertake such a large workload, the club employs a crew of local builders. However, the assistance of Rotary volunteers allows cost savings and accelerates the build. All buildings are constructed to withstand the devastating effects of the cyclones.

As well as the school building programme the local building crew carries out work at the island hospital - the crew had just completed the full renovation of a fire damaged house at the hospital which will be used by birthing mothers and includes a room for visiting doctors. Various Rotary clubs have had volunteer teams assisting with many of these builds together with support of finance and materials.

Twelve months earlier, Barry had been part of a volunteer group from Auckland who assisted on a school teachers house build at Nuisawa School. From that rewarding experience Barry decided a repeat would allow other Rotarians from his home city to enjoy a similar experience. The volunteers were: Barry Blommaart and Bill Johnson from Nelson Rotary Club, Julie Bryant, Trevor Marshall, Tony and Gill Jemmett from Whakatu Rotary Club, and Claire Connor from Taradale Rotary Club.

The project the team became involved on was the construction of a school teacher’s house at the village of Lavena, located at the roads end on the east coast of the Island. The team were accommodated in the guest house of Taveuni Rotary club's project manager Geoffrey Amos, located at Matei village on the northern end of the Island and the location of the airstrip for all flights from Nadi. The daily journey to Lavena village took approximately 45 minutes over a severely pot-holed road. Prior to the team’s arrival the local building team had completed the house up to exterior cladding and roof. Barry arrived one week before the rest of the team and once onsite was put to work completing the interior partition walls, wall linings and fitting windows. The rest of the team’s task was to paint the house exterior and interior with a total of two primer coats and two top coats on all surfaces. At the end of the week the team had achieved the objective of having the house ready for floor tiling and final fit off of plumbing.

The local building team was also involved in the construction of a two classroom block and another teacher’s house. That team's priority during this time was to commence construction of the second teachers house ready for another team of volunteers from Rotorua Sunrise Rotary Club due to arrive in two weeks time.

A truly rewarding experience in so many ways.