Son of Koro Gives Back to Cyclone Winston Victims

For ANZ Bank accountant Salesitino Bau Komainalovo going back to his island Koro “with something in hand” after the widespread devastation by Tropical Cyclone Winston was the best gift he
01 Feb 2018 11:00
Son of Koro Gives Back to Cyclone Winston Victims
From left: ANZ Fiji Accountant, Salesitino Bau Komainalovo (holding his Civic Leadership Award), Director for Reach 4 Your Future Foundation Ganesh Sen, Minister for Youth and Sports Laisenia Tuitubou, ANZ Fiji Country Head Saud Minam with other award winners and staff members from the Ministry of Youth and ANZ on January 29. Photo: ANZ Media

For ANZ Bank accountant Salesitino Bau Komainalovo going back to his island Koro “with something in hand” after the widespread devastation by Tropical Cyclone Winston was the best gift he could give back to his people.

He had made several trips there since Winston struck in February 2016. But the last two visits before Christmas last year and again over a week ago gave him much satisfaction.

Mr Komainalovo was part of a team comprising volunteers from the bank who travelled to his village of Kade the week before Christmas to deliver gifts of school items to students as part of a project called Christmas Carols in Koro.

“On all of these trips, the widespread devastation, and in particular the desperation in the eyes of Koro children were the driving force for me to play an active role,’’ Mr Komainalovo said.

“We are far from full recovery. There’s a need to attend to all the eight schools on the island, seven primary schools and a secondary school.’’

Life in the 14 villages on the island is returning to normalcy but at a very slow pace. Subsistence farming has picked up pace. The yaqona industry for which Koro was once renowned has bounced back and is showing promise.


Kade Village, he said became the obvious point of distribution because of its close proximity to the local wharf.

Mr Komainalovo, 40, who is married with four children, is of the opinion that their schools should be given priority.

And, thanks to Melbourne-based foundation Reach 4 Your Future, which willingly partnered the ANZ Bank’s in-house volunteer movement, Mr Komainalovo found himself at the helm of a charitable project worth $200,000.

In theory, this partnership became very viable, Mr Komainalovo said, but the workload – from planning to delivery – became very challenging. It took eight months to see the fruit of their labour being delivered to the children of Koro.

ANZ staff, on a voluntary basis, packed 800 donated backpacks with stationery and other back-to-school essentials for school children on Koro, clocking over 300 volunteer hours before the festive season delivery.

ANZ volunteers contributed 310 bags while the rest was contributed by tapping the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Women, Ministry of Youth and Sports, Rugby Australia, and Wyndham Resort in Nadi which in turn brought on board other donors from the West, like Sogo.

The resort, Mr Komainalovo said, added hampers to their contribution and these were distributed to needy families on Koro.

An outstanding contributor Mr Komainalovo singled out was the Reserve Bank of Fiji which contributed 16 computers and eight printers. Each school was given two computers each with a printer.

In addition, a Reserve Bank of Fiji staff member travelled with the team to help set up the computers, and spoke at village workshops on the topic of financial literacy. The workshop aimed at educating villages on how to manage with their finances in times of difficulties.

Gifts bring joy

The workshop was initiated by ANZ’s flagship financial literacy programme MoneyMinded and attracted 55 participants.

Reflecting on the day the gifts were distributed, Mr Komainalovo said: “It was a huge celebration. The islanders were very happy. The volunteers who came were just as happy on the day they were presented these gifts.

“Koro is synonymous with music. We love entertaining. We had the Kabu ni Delaikade and Kade Swingers on hand for the song and dance part of the gathering,’’ he said.

Water Authority of Fiji shipped across fresh water for the function, while the Department of Energy supplied electricity.

ANZ Fiji Country Head Saud Minam said at an awards ceremony in Suva on Monday that the bank was committed to investing in communities and building prosperity through staff volunteering.

He was speaking during acknowledgment of the contribution by individuals and organisations to the Christmas Carols in Koro initiative.

“ANZ staff have access to one paid volunteer leave day every year. I encourage them all to donate their skills and time to community causes either as an individual or as part of a team,” Mr Minam said.

“Our staff were passionate about the Christmas Carols in Koro initiative and were keen to help make a difference to the people on the island. I’d like to thank Reach 4 Your Future for the partnership, and also thank our staff volunteers for their hard work.”

And, for his part in the project Mr Komainalovo took home a commemorative plaque to celebrate his Civic Leadership Award. The award was the highlight of Monday’s ceremony which acknowledged the good work done by bank employees, who have embraced the spirit of volunteerism.

Mr Komainalovo was educated at Kade Primary School, Koro High School, Lelean Memorial School then switched to Nadi College where he studied for his Year 13. He then attended a tertiary institute in Lautoka where he graduated with a diploma in accountancy-related studies before proceeding to the University of the South Pacific from where he graduated with degree in accounting and business management.

Edited by George Kulamaiwasa


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