For a small fee of FJD$100 (AU$64) per
adult and FJD$60 (AU$38) per child - money
that goes towards the purchase of building
materials - guests can give up a few hours
of their holiday to help the local community
work on the project.
It's not all hard labour. Guests spend time
meeting and interacting with the students
and enjoy exclusive insight into village life,
local facilities, markets and attractions. A
picnic lunch is included at the Tavuni Hill Fort, a national archaeological site.
For those with limited time, donations of
resources such as books, pens and sporting
goods are also welcomed.
The new kindergarten is the second
project of its kind established by Peter
Hopgood, who was honoured by the
Fijian tourist industry for his passionate
contribution to tourism and the local
community last year.
In 2015, the resort's Community Tourism
Project helped build a new cyclone-proof
community meeting and school hall. Money
has also been raised to help fix roofs, and
paint and build fences for the school.
"Everyone wins" says Hopgood, adding
that around 18-20 per cent of return guests,
including families, now specifically come to
Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort just to help.
As a member of the Coral Coast Chapter
of the Fiji Islands Hotel and Tourism
Association (involving other local resorts
such as The Warwick, The Naviti Resort
and Shangri-La's Fijian Resort & Spa),
Peter Hopgood has also been instrumental
in helping raise funds for a new maternity
unit and the extension of the women's ward
at the local Sigatoka Hospital (helping to
significantly cut the number of newborn
deaths) as well as an upgrade to its A&E
department and outpatient facilities.
Outrigger also supports swimming
great Shane Gould's drowning prevention
programme. Born in Fiji, the Aussie Olympic
legend visits twice a year to educate the local
children, who often cross rivers to get to
school, on preventative drowning techniques.
During our week's holiday we watched
children barely out of nappies and dressed
in their Sunday best serenading guests with
a few church hymns - their harmonies
blending perfectly with the setting sun and
the approaching calm of a tropical evening.
I've heard these choirs before but
this time, thanks to the time we'd spent
volunteering, I really felt part of the
community singing them.