Each year, FIJI Water employees participate in Leadership Fiji, which is an organization that aims to develop the next generation of leaders by hosting community service projects and workshops on topics such as environmental sustainability, poverty and social welfare, human rights, health, and education.
Leadership Fiji, a FIJI Water Foundation community grant recipient, invites representatives from various organizations to apply for and participate in its flagship community development program on an annual basis. Last year, Annjelyn Shalvina, manager logistics and depot at FIJI Water, applied and following a rigorous application process, was accepted into the Leadership Fiji 2022 (LF2022) cohort.
During the first year of the program, Annjelyn and the cohort participated in weekly workshops where speakers from various groups, such as subject matter experts and government officials, were invited to discuss the history of Fiji, and the changes the country had gone through following the COVID-19 pandemic.
To qualify for graduation, the group was tasked with identifying and completing a community service project. For instance, a charitable organization in Lautoka was seeking additional resources and within the span of three weeks, the group was able to build three homes in the late summer of 2022, thus showcasing the Fijian spirit of community and resilience. The group also painted the community hall at Golden Age Home, a cherished nursing home for the elderly located in Suva and fundraised for the Frank Hilton Organization, a nonprofit organization that provides essential resources for children with disabilities.
Once the group graduated in November 2022, they began to brainstorm ideas for their final project to further demonstrate their commitment to the community. Earlier that year, the group visited a village in Vanua Levu that was deeply impacted by the global challenge of rising sea levels. It was also the first village that was forced to relocate in the South Pacific and was struggling to generate income. The villagers requested a multi-purpose bus shelter so those waiting for the bus could have access to washrooms and small shops and villagers could sell their local produce and crafts.
Despite logistical challenges, the group decided to fundraise. Originally scheduled for completion in June 2023, the construction was delayed by another month due to severe rainstorms.
Giving back brings me so much joy and a sense of fulfillment. It made me realize that the biggest gift I can give to others is my time, my heart, and hands to help!
Manager Logistics and Depot at FIJI Water
The bus shelter was complete at the end of July and a traditional handover ceremony was held to present the gift to the village. The group also gifted the villagers with a water tank and partnered with the FIJI Water Foundation to provide 100 school bags to the students at Nabua Primary School.
Reflecting on her experience, Annjelyn said, “Participating in Leadership Fiji exposed me to the core values and essence of the Fijian spirit: a strong sense of community, unwavering resilience, and boundless generosity. This experience taught me how to find my purpose and the ways in which I can give back. I had to get out of my comfort zone, face my fears, and jump into the unknown, which was a challenge for me since I am an introvert, but I am grateful for the experiences Leadership Fiji gave me.”
As deputy leader, she plans to keep the momentum going and continues to be involved in environmental, educational, and sustainability-related projects. A summit will be held in November where new leaders will be selected and new projects will be discussed, including tree planting, and enhancing educational programs in nearby schools.
Ultimately, this Leadership Fiji cohort serves as a powerful reminder that by working together, we can create a better world for all. Vinaka, Annjelyn, for your continued support and commitment to Fiji!
To learn more about Leadership Fiji, visit leadershipfiji.org.