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Margaret is on a mission

28 Jun 2011

Margaret is on a mission Image

Docklands Rotary Club member Margaret Hamilton’s most recent charity visit to Fiji looked like being her last due to excessive government bureaucracy and import duties.

But out of adversity has come a wonderful new opportunity which looks like breathing new life into the club’s ongoing project to provide donations to needy Fijians.

Mrs Hamilton and her husband Bill have organised several container loads of second-hand goods over recent years and, in the past, these have always been accepted by the Fijian authorities free of import duties.

So the couple were surprised in May when authorities demanded AU$1400 in customs duties to land their latest 40-foot container of donated items including electrical goods, computers, books, clothing and material
for curtains.

“We spent seven working days going from department to department talking with people trying to get something done about it,” Margaret said.  “It looked like being the end of the project because it had already cost the club so much money to ship the goods.”

In desperation, the Hamiltons went to the local press and tried to enlist the support of the Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.

“And then I met the most wonderful woman, the Minister for Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation,” Margaret said.

“Dr Jiko Luveni has offered to pay for the freight of future containers.  And even better, she will take care of the distribution at the Fiji end so we can rest assured that all the donations get to the people in most need.”

Margaret said she was almost at her wit’s end before meeting Dr Luveni.

“Bill and I were completely over it.  We were ready to pack it all in,” she said.

“It’s just amazing how this opportunity has come out of extreme adversity.”

Dr Luveni has now asked Mrs Hamilton for three containers a year so all of a sudden, the project will not cost the club any of its limited cash reserves and has been accelerated to a new level of activity.

Margaret is now spending a lot more time at Rotary’s Donations in Kind (DIK) warehouse in West Footscray where a staggering amount of new and second-hand goods materials are assembled by volunteers for shipment to needy projects all around the world.

The Hamiltons have a grandson whose father is an indigenous Fijian and have previously concentrated their efforts supplying village schools in the Fijian highlands.  But now the project can extend its reach to the entire nation.

Dr Luveni wrote to Mrs Hamilton on May 19 to formally make the offer of assistance.

She acknowledged the 60 tonnes of donated items that Margaret and the Rotary Club of Docklands has been donated and distributed primarily to schools and hospitals in the Nadarivatu region of Fiji.

“We are indebted to your love of Fiji,” Dr Luveni wrote. “The time, resources and effort that you are contributing to the various projects here are greatly appreciated.”

Mrs Hamilton is interested in donations of sewing machines and sewing aids, curtain and dress fabric, sewing patterns of all types and sizes, clothing and shoes, children’s books, stationery, large TVs, DVD and video players, (plus children’s discs and tapes), garden tools, bed linen and table cloths, sporting equipment and board games.  

Mrs Hamilton can be contacted on 0433 155 233 or email (JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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