Newly Built Village Hall Bonds Villagers And Volunteers

Naidi villagers happily opened their new hall yesterday, thanks to helpful efforts by the daughter of Albert II, Prince of Monaco, Jazmin Grace Grimaldi and volunteers from the UK. The
20 Sep 2018 11:46
Newly Built Village Hall Bonds Villagers And Volunteers
Villagers of Naidi with overseas volunteers and Jazmin Grace Grimaldi (garlanded) on September 19, 2018. Photo: Nacanieli Tuilevuka

Naidi villagers happily opened their new hall yesterday, thanks to helpful efforts by the daughter of Albert II, Prince of Monaco, Jazmin Grace Grimaldi and volunteers from the UK.

The hall was designed and built by CAUKIN Studio, an architectural design and build­ing group from the United Kingdom that ar­ranges overseas volunteers to come to Fiji to help in building projects. They were as­sisted by locals.

Ms Grimaldi helped in the funding of the hall after it was destroyed during Tropical Cyclone Winston in 2016.

Ms Grimaldi first started working with the Naqaqa Giving Foundation 12 years ago when she founded “The Jazmin Fund” dur­ing her eight island humanitarian tour.

Following the footstep of her grandmoth­er, Hollywood legend Grace Kelly, Ms Gri­maldi is an actress and a singer who resides at New York City.

Village headman (Turaga ni Koro) Vosa­mana Baravilala said their prayers were answered last year when they had received confirmation from the foundation that they would be assisting them in building a new village hall.

“Five years ago, we had been fundraising for renovation works to be carried out to our village hall as it was falling apart,” Mr Baravilala said.

“In 2016, when the Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston hit Fiji, our village hall was not spared.

“So we had been without a village hall for the past two years. In 2017, the foundation’s executive officer, Max Cross visited the vil­lage confirming to our then-chief that they would be assisting us in building a new vil­lage hall.

“And today it is evident, that the founda­tion has delivered their promise, fulfilling what they promised to us last year.

“We do not have any gold or silver to thank them with. We are indebted for their assis­tance. Every time I see Ms Grimaldi, I thank her for the support and the assistance that she has provided,” he said.

Mr Baravilala said the hall was built in only eight weeks by Naidi villagers and overseas volunteers

“We bonded with the volunteers from over­seas. They have become more than friends, they are family. They will be deeply missed when they leave Naidi to return home,” he said.

“It has been 30 years ago since Naidi Vil­lage last performed a Doladolavi (opening) ceremony.

“They told us that the hall can withstand a Category 5 cyclone. I am thankful for their timely assistance. Now when there is a cy­clone, we have somewhere to run to and take shelter,” he said.

Ms Grimaldi said she was inspired to start The Jazmin Fund because she had been passionate about helping those in needs.

She said that her proudest moment was be­ing able to raise awareness and check many items off the villages’ wish list

“From an early age, I’ve been passionate about volunteering and getting involved in local outreach programmes and I always wanted to start my own initiative,” she said.

“I wanted to help provide a space where Naidi could come together as a community and to share their passion and creativity.

“They now have a safe and a strong space for everyone to come together to sing, drink kava, learn how to play musical instru­ments, a place for women to sell their hand­icraft, a place for young people to learn and practice the meke.

“I want the village to feel proud of their new community hall and claim it as their second home. The beauty of this structure is that it would have not been possible with­out our working together and uniting as one. We all played a part in making this pos­sible. We can all claim part of this as our own,” she said.

Edited by Jonathan Bryce


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