Letter from Fiji

Bula Vinaka, Greetings from Fiji

Between 1993 and 2002 we were lucky enough to receive six shipments totaling 1012 bicycles from Pedals for Progress. We were very successful reaching at-risk youth, teaching them basic mechanics and instilling in them a love for cycling.

fijiBikeShopP4PshirtIMG_0015 Due to a variety of reasons both personal and political I was not able to keep the program going. Now I hope to reinvigorate the program for the benefit of all Fijians and have petitioned Pedals for Progress for our sixth shipment of bicycles.

The beautiful Fiji Islands are well known for their unique tropical scenery, tasty food, and eco-friendly life-style, but Fiji is still a developing country. Systems and life-style aren’t diverse compared to other countries.

To help establish a solid foundation I would like to introduce cycling as a major event.

The program I would like to highlight mainly targets unemployed youth and settlers in rural areas. As an example, consider our sugar cane farmers. Many travel quite a distance to their work fields, working long hours and earning a gross salary of $100 U.S. a week.

fijiBikeShop2youthSAM_2925As a volunteer, I live day by day and cover expenses with my own earnings. I do not receive government grants nor have any major sponsors, but due to my love of cycling, I do my best to maintain the bikes. I conduct workshops on topics such as the importance of healthy living, safety and fitness, reasons for cycling, rules of the road, and cycling skills and techniques. I have average turnouts and a good number of trainees and cyclists but do not have enough equipment.

We have very dedicated youths who hold great pride in this sport, but cannot afford bicycles. Receiving another container will give some employment to the youth who are studying mechanics by rebuilding the bikes for the general population, fulfill the needs of the youth who wish to compete on bicycles and also grant mobility to many workers who need basic transportation. Now that Pedals for Progress also ships sewing machines, this would give valuable work opportunities to even more people. It is my ardent hope that the people of the United States will once more aid me in helping my fellow countrymen by donating bicycles and sewing machines so that I can receive a container this autumn.

Vinaka Vakalevu
Percival Epeli Navolo

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