Visiting Fiji - Day 7: The Grand Finale Posted on 15 Oct 23:00
When we woke up to more rain, I may or may not have been a little grumpy. I had packed a “wishful thinking” bag which meant, if the sun should appear, we would make a dash to the beach and take our last round of Kai-Viti photographs with these supplies. I gave myself another pep-talk, and did a little rain dance (ok, maybe no rain dance) and then I walked outside and was hit by the wind, the rain, and an important realization.
You see, this whole trip I have been frustrated that I wasn’t getting to see the “real Fiji” that I had seen online. Every picture I had come across during our countless hours of re-branding, website building, web-searching, and research and given me no clue that it actually rains in Fiji. I had built up this false idea of a 365 day, rain-free, perfect weather climate, and that was just not real. As I sat and thought about the beauty of the terrain here and all my multiple comments on this blog about how lush and green everything is, it occurred to me that it is only that way because…. Drumroll please…. It actually rains in Fiji. And, it doesn’t just rain sometimes. It rains A LOT!
I was reminded of some lessons I’ve been learning this last year about finding beauty in the ordinary, and about noticing & honoring that which is “real” not just that which looks good on the outside. My week had been a giant opportunity to live into this reality and this kind of perspective that I have been trying so hard to develop. And it was hard. And I was grumpy at times. Even stressed because I was worried about getting the kind of footage we needed to show you all just how beautiful it is here.
Enter the first stop of our day: the Rahmatullah Khan Memorial School that Kai-Viti has supported for the last 5 years. We were given a welcome tour around the campus, stopping in each classroom to greet the students, chat with them a bit, and see what they were learning. The laughter, singing, smiles, games, and good humor were compelling. The administrators told us of the ways they have benefitted from the support of Kai-Viti in the past, and shared with us some of the biggest current needs the school has. A few that topped their list: drinking water for the 200+ kids and the teachers who live on site (their bore hole had dried up and they were without fresh water); flushable toilets; shoes for some of the children who couldn’t afford them; “stationary” (or, school supplies) for the kids (apparently no paper is made in Fiji and so it all has to be shipped in from over seas and is very expensive); and access to technology so the kids could continue to be trained in the very best education methods. We sat down over tea and biscuits to talk about how we could partner together to bring a quality education to the kids and to meet some of their most basic needs.
It was at that point that it all came together for me. The beauty of that table, of the conversation, of the partnership, and of the good, good, work that is being done in the lives of these kids as a result is really what this is all about. This beauty, far more compelling and real than the one I was stressing out about showing you all in the previous sun-less days.
You see, the cool thing about this project (in my opinion) is that you and I don’t have to free up a lot of financial resources to support and empower the people in the developing country of Fiji. We drink water already. Lots of it. And if we can switch to drink Kai-Viti water, instead of whatever other brands we thoughtlessly buy, the money we would already be spending is in-turn spent on things that really matter.
In this stage of life, this is the kind of thing I feel I can do to live a little more wisely in the world. I don’t feel like I have huge amounts of expendable cash to give away, but I do feel I have some discretionary spending that, when handled wisely, can still go a long way in the world. So, I’m going to start having water delivered to my home, which, to me, seems like a huge and unnecessary luxury and convenience. But really, this convenience for me, produces life for a bunch of kids and families all the way in Fiji. And that, is true luxury what I really want my life to be oriented around. Seems like a no-brainer switch to me. Will you join me?
So now, at the conclusion of this trip. I’d like to propose a toast: Here’s to beauty and to luxury, but not the kind that is reserved for celebrities or those with a certain amount of disposable income. Here’s to a beauty that notices and honors the “real”, not just the “ideal;” and to a luxury that is about enjoying the present moment and living in a way that allows others to fully live and enjoy it, too. And here’s to making wise consumer choices (like subscribing to Kai-Viti home delivery) that help make it all possible!