Fiji For Summer

Ellen Butler, Staff Writer

Fiji is known for its beautiful beaches, but also for its beautiful people, according to Allison Chang (11), who visited earlier this summer. While on vacation, Chang and her family visited and donated money to a village of people living with very, on the island of Viti Levu. To her surprise, they were some of the happiest, most genuine people she has ever met.

“These people lived in one room shacks made out of old, reused sheet metal that were completely knocked down during hurricanes and became viciously hot during the summer and when it rained, their homes were completely flooded,” said Chang, “but they never let their dismantled homes or ratty clothes get the best of them.” The people of the village welcomed the Chang family into their homes with open arms. Chang said, “From toys to meals, they were more than happy to share everything they had with us, despite the poverty they were in.”

        Minimum wage in Fiji is about $1.20, so taking home $20 a day seems like a dream come true to the people there. Money is spent primarily on flour and sugar, while other necessities are grown in the village, such as cassava, herbs, taro, bananas, mangos, and lemons. The money donated was spent on food that the people of the village prepared and cooked for the Changs.

“I was amazed at the amount of things they were able to accomplish with so little,” Chang said, looking back on the twelve course meal she enjoyed with the villagers.

What Chang enjoyed the most was seeing the children smile and laugh from the time the sun rose to the time the sun set. The best time she had was getting to play in the river with the kids.

“They were the most positive people I’ve seen in a long time, not caring about the way they looked or what they had, only the people they were with and the friendships they had made,” said Chang.

Chang is now hoping to make a difference for the village however she can, starting by sending them old clothes, shoes, toys, and bags in early October so that they arrive in time for Christmas. She hopes that from this point on, she spends every summer learning something new, expanding her horizons, and bettering herself, as everyone should.

“The most important thing I learned in Fiji was that the material things are not what makes us happiest,” said Chang, “I am so thankful to have gone on this trip, see the things I saw, and met the people I did. They have changed the way I see things and because of them I am better and happier.”