Contribution to FBCL/Vodafone flood appeal
Thursday 5th February 5, 2009

Remarks by Aslam khan, Managing Director of Vodafone Fiji Ltd, at the presentation to the Save the Children Fiji of proceeds from the Vodafone/FBCL Flood Appeal at FBCL.

Mr Chandra Shekar, and staff of Save the Children Fiji, Friends from the Media and Ladies and Gentlemen.

Fiji’s recent floods have underlined what we all know, that when disaster strikes in whatever form, the most vulnerable are more often then not the worst affected either directly or otherwise.
The damage has been catastrophic for many families and businesses. Many farms will take months to recover from the devastation, some small shops will never open their doors again and tragically some families have lost loved ones to the elements and the sheer force of nature.

We have taken a battering, yes, but I believe that we, Fiji, have something that is not often seen in developed countries; a joining together of the private sector with service organizations to help the state take us through disasters. It is this partnership that we are here to salute today, as well to present to Save the Children Fiji just part of the result of this partnership, $100,000, so that children in the affected areas can continue to attend school.

As the flood waters receded, Vodafone Fiji Limited and the Fiji Broadcasting Corporation with the Vodafone Hibiscus Committee got into gear with a plan to bring relief to the thousands affected. Granted, we are not alone and I must salute the wonderful efforts of other companies, who have assisted with fundraising, food and clothing distributions for the benefit of the victims.
What set us apart I believe and now I go back to the partnership forged during this time, is the sheer scope of this Flood Appeal, which was driven by Ryaz Sayed-Kahiyum and his very able team here at the Broadcasting House.

It started on Monday 12 January with the HOPE text, where Vodafone customers were invited to text the word HOPE to 365 at the cost of 99cents. Vodafone agreed to match the money raised.
A local bank account was opened for donations, while friends and families overseas were invited to donate via credit card on the Vodafone website.

While that was going on, listeners of the FBCL’s 6 radio stations were being asked to get ready for a Door to Door Pick Up of clothing, cooking utensils and food in the greater Suva area.
The pick begun in the torrential rain on Saturday 17th with volunteers from the Hibiscus Event Group, Suva City Council, Vodafone and FBCL and continued to Sunday 18th The results were mountains and mountains of donated goods that reached the ceiling of the lower Civic Auditorium. The whole week after that hundreds of, volunteers, listeners after hearing requests on FBCL stations arrived to help sort, fold and pack. 20 foot containers were packed and the first shipment arrived in Ba, one of the worst hit areas at 9pm, on Wednesday 21st. We understand from Sandhya Narayan on FRIEND that the need was so great the distribution started immediately and did not finish till 3am.

More than 20 foot containers and 7 tonne trucks filled with supplies went to the west from Sigatoka to Ba, Naitasiri and Wanibuka and Rewa Delta reaching thousands of our brothers and sisters.
Meanwhile the biggest free concert Fiji has ever seen was being planned by FBCL. The HOPE Concert rocked Suva on the 24th and brought to a close a joint appeal but not before more then 30 thousand concertgoers raised $12,000 on the day.

In total, 77 individual donors from nine countries donated $7,436 vis website; Vodafone customers raised $25, 298.46 by texting HOPE to 365, Vodafone matched that amount with another $25298.46 while FBCL collected $38,973.51. This amount was just under $100,000 so both companies got together to round the figure off.

I know Ryaz would like to thank a number of people and organizations for their help during the appeal. For our part I would like thank Ryaz and his team at the FBCL for the pivotal role the played in making this appeal a huge success it was. Our own partners came forward and gave their time and talent; too; thank you to Jonathan Segal and the Oceanic communication as well as Wespac for making donations via our website so easy and stress free. Thank you to Shiri from Art and Sole for giving your talents freely.

I also thank the people of Suva and the friends and families overseas who gave their possessions, money and their time so generously for the sake of those who have been affected.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.