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TGNI in the News

The following article is from Wai ni Bula, the Fiji Water Foundation newsletter, Issue 8, Oct-Dec 2009

FIJI Water Foundation Spotlight: The Good Neighbor International Community-based initiative towards sustainable change

At this festive time of year, we are often mindful of the importance of being a good neighbor. In Fiji there are many who will go without holiday feasts or gifts, many who do not even have a place to call home or know where their next meal will come from. For people down on their luck, there are few places to turn, but one house on McGregor Street always has an open door and that is The Good Neighbor International.

Based in Suva, The Good Neighbor (TGNI) also operates in Australia, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and Papua New Guinea. The organization focuses on providing grass-roots assistance wherever it is most needed, particularly to the poor, the unemployed, the hungry, and the homeless. Their services include a Suva-based hostel for women, kids, families, and people who have nowhere to turn. They also help communities to improve their lifestyles with water, education, and food security projects. Their motto is “We Build People” and their goal is not to provide a "hand out" but a "hand up."

This year with a $29,600 FJD grant from the FIJI Water Foundation, they have been able to improve four of their local resource centers around the country. These centers are like big community gardens and farms, with some simple on-site housing provided, and also computer resources and study facilities for children after school. Some people work at the centers everyday in exchange for shelter, food, or clothing.

The TGNI centre in Wainivula, Ra is fully operational and self-sustaining, bringing in $500 a week in sale of produce in local markets and at hotels. Over the school holidays this year TGNI has organized for children from the Suva shelter to visit the rural centre in Ra and stay for a week. In a manner similar to summer camp, the children have daily activities, chores, responsibilities and also get free time to swim, play volleyball and relax with other children in the area. It's a unique experience for these kids who normally would be searching the streets of Suva for entertainment or trouble.

Reverend Paul Ramswarup helped to establish The Good Neighbor in Fiji in 1992, and speaks movingly about TGNI’s compassionate mission. One story in particular stands out:

“There is a woman staying in our Wainivula center who was severely abused and neglected by her family. She was passed around various social welfare organizations- they had no place for her, and when she came to us they told us she was useless. Since she has come to Wainivula she has been happy as a clam. She has her own modest room and bed, and she wakes up every morning and cooks and works so hard on the farm we have to tell her to rest. She has been shown compassion and now she has found peace and a purpose.” TGNI’s doors are open to people of all races and religions because, says Rev. Ramswarup, their goal is not to preach, but to live the charitable and compassionate life.

FIJI Water Foundation is proud to be supporting the work of The Good Neighbor. We are passionate about development and change that starts from within a community. The Good Neighbor is a part of the communities where they work; they know the families, their situations and challenges, and also their potential. It is truly inspiring to see the lasting positive changes they are making in people’s lives.

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