Crowdfunding saves Fijian families

A GoFundMe page set up by the management team at Turtle Island in Fiji has raised over $A40,000 to help the island’s local communities and alleviate food insecurity for approximately 370 Fijian families.

Due to global COVID-19 travel restrictions and the destruction caused by Cyclone Harold in April this year, many of the tourism operators in the Yasawa Islands of Fiji have had to close and more than 90 per cent of people in Turtle Island’s neighbouring island community (known as the Nacula Tikina) have lost their primary source of income.

After an original donation of $FJ15,000 made to the island’s food relief initiative, which included fishing and farming equipment as well as food supplies, Richard Evanson Jnr, Turtle Island’s managing director and son of the owner, set up the GoFundMe page to raise additional funds in an effort to further support the struggling local families.

“A donation of $FJ175 (approximately $A115) helps to feed one household and gives the necessary relief until they can establish their produce farms, so this generous sum of AU$40,000 is gratefully received and will go a long way to helping our Tikina during these challenging times,” said Mr Evanson Jnr.

The GoFundMe page, which received a total of 97 donations, included nine individual contributions of $US1000 and numerous $US500 donations, which came mostly from past guests of the island, with some choosing to share their memories with their donation. Some of these comments were:

“We were married on Turtle Island 35 years ago. We love beautiful Fiji and the beautiful Fijian people. We want to visit again when this virus is gone. Stay Safe.”

“Turtle Island is magical but it’s the people there that make it so special. We hope things get back to normal soon.”

“Our Turtle Family and their communities hold a special place in our hearts. We will be back next year. God bless Turtle Island! Kip Smilin!”

Turtle Island has supported its own community during the lockdown and travel restriction period through a commitment to retaining all staff. More than 60 team members remained on the island tending to the gardens and conducting ongoing maintenance in readiness for opening up again.

As soon as the border restrictions are lifted and flights resume, Turtle Island is ready and waiting to welcome back guests.

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Written by Katie Cahill


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