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Bebe Experience Humbles Former Resident

Bebe Experience Humbles Former Resident
Sanjay Narayan, a member of the Bring a Smile organisation hands over the keys to the generator to Naroko Primary School manager Manasa Naitoko. Looking on from left, Arun Kumar, Divisional Education Officer West Albert Wise and Minister for Education Mahendra Reddy. Photo: Charles Chambers.
May 13
08:01 2016

A former Fiji resident’s experience after a harrowing experience with Hurricane Bebe in 1972 was the reason for his reaching out to schools in the aftermath of the recent disaster.

Arun Kumar, 50, formerly of Veisaru in Ba and now living in Maryong in New South Wales in Australia is the man behind the organisation, Bring a Smile.

Mr Kumar was quick to remark that the name was concocted 38,000 feet in the air while going back to Australia after his first visit following Cyclone Winston in February.

On Wednesday, Mr Kumar and his wife presented a generator to the Minister for Education for it to be used at Naroko Primary School in Rakiraki.

The donations came as a joint contribution from Bring a Smile and the Maryong Sitaram Mandir.

In accepting the generator, Mr Reddy said such donations helped lower the disparity in resources between schools in the rural and maritime areas and those in urban centres.

Mr Kumar said, as a six-year-old growing up in Veisaru, his experience during Cyclone Bebe in 1972 was something he would never forget.

“Our house was blown away in 10 minutes and we made our way to my uncle’s home but the roof went as soon as we got there,” he said.

He said both families then hid under the floor of the house beside his uncle’s farm animals.

“So during Cyclone Winston, I was sitting up with my dad listening to the cyclone reports till 2am over a basin of grog.

“The next day I told my work colleagues I was coming to Fiji and during first trip we brought 1.43tonnes of clothing for the people, especially the children.

“We were thinking of a name for the organisation and the thing that fitted was the smiles we saw on the children’s faces, despite the hardships they were facing after the cyclone.”

‘Bring a Smile’ conducted another fundraising drive and had aimed to purchase four generators for schools who were without electricity but managed to buy five instead.

Each generator costs $8000.

Generators were also given to Navoli Sanatan School in Ba, Davota Sanatan  Primary School in Tavua and Naova Primary, Tataiya Memorial and Sudha Primary Schools in rakirsaki.

Mr Kumar thanked Vanguard Logistics, Williams and Gosling, all donors, supporters and work colleagues Nilesh and Zaheed  and local companies Jimmy’s Gas Supplies and Jason’s Video for the transport.

Edited by Manasa Kalouniviti



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