CAPTION: Ambassador Robin Nair with Loretta Dennis. Photo: KELEPI ABARIGA.
By Fijian Embassy in United Arab Emirates
With the recent devastation that has affected the people of Fiji following Cyclone Evan, the Fijian Embassy is joining forces with the Abu Dhabi Darlings to host a special night for a good cause. On January 31, there will be a Fijian-themed event at the ballroom in the Beach Rotana Hotel. Tickets are being sold for Dhs235 and the proceeds will go to the Foundation for the Education of Needy Children of Fiji. In addition, funds will also benefit victims of the cyclone, which battered away at the Pacific island for over 12 hours. The cyclone nearly levelled numerous areas, leaving victims with no supplies to sustain themselves. Through this event (where guests will be able to sample Fijian cuisine and revel in some unique elements of Fijian culture) the two groups are hoping to raise awareness and funds for these causes.
The Fijian Embassy opened its doors in Abu Dhabi in September 2012 and this is the first time the Embassy has partnered with the Abu Dhabi Darlings, a group of expatriate ladies who used to meet socially for coffee. They soon began activities to raise money for charitable causes and eventually, the group began to do these activities in a more organised manner.
Having begun officially in 2009, the group currently has over 100 members who all work in tandem to raise funds for various charities. Abu Dhabi Darlings is actually the nickname for the group, usually known as the International Women’s Association Abu Dhabi.
The Embassy of Fiji is keen to promote their culture and heritage, as well as maintaining a strong philanthropic agenda. They strongly support the Foundation for the Education of Needy Children in Fiji, or FENC, which is a national initiative to educate the poorest children in the country. FENC provides scholarships and works with underprivileged youth at all levels of education. In addition, they provide school supplies and scholastic materials. The unfortunate reality is that a growing number of the Fijian population is in poverty and without education, future generations will continue in this cycle. By teaching the younger age groups, FENC hopes that they will be able to join the working sector and improve this tragic situation.
In a speech at the launch of FENC, the Fijian Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama said: ‘We, as a nation, must alleviate poverty; we must reverse the trend of the past three decades of the sharp rise in the incidents of poverty.’ The figures are daunting; currently, over 40 percent of the Fijian population dwells below the poverty line and over ten percent of children between the ages of five and 14 do not attend school. FENC is working strongly to address this and education is the crucial element that could diffuse a very bleak feature.
Although there are only around 200 Fijians residing in the city, the embassy is planning on strengthening ties between the two countries. ‘We have many charitable events planned for the year and through this we hope to establish a stronger presence in the UAE,’ says Public Relations & Consular Officer Kelepi Abariga.
Mr Abariga , who also acts as the events coordinator, added that part of the Embassy’s social and community objective is to promote and raise more awareness about the Fijian Culture and its traditions through the various charitable engagements planned for this year in Abu Dhabi. ‘Fiji is a multi-racial country and unique with both the presence of diverse cultures and its indigenous heritage working hand in hand,’ says Abariga. ‘So we want to express that spirit of hospitality and warmth by sharing our experiences with the people of this beautiful country.’
The recent formation of the three Fijian Associations in Dubai, Al Ain and Abu Dhabi augurs well in soliciting support for the many events that the Embassy will be organizing throughout the year.