The combined Lions Clubs of Wairarapa sold community donated items to raise funds for community projects in Fiji. From L-R: Jack Hayes, Liz Deller and Sandy Hayes. PHOTOS/JOHN LAZO-RON

An unfortunate end for a community organisation’s planned act of goodness for a foreign nation has turned into an opportunity for another. JOHN LAZO-RON reports.

Earlier this year, the combined Lions Clubs of Wairarapa, Tararua and Horowhenua collected various items donated from the community to ship off to northern Uganda.

They filled an entire shipping container with clothing, curtains, bedding, furniture [including school desks], sports equipment, bicycles, hand tools, DIY goods, and kitchenware and utensils.

The donated goods would have been sent to help out Ugandans in dire need of these items.

However, they eventually found the practicality of shifting a container to the African nation unfeasible.

Uganda is landlocked. The Lions Clubs would have had to ship the container to Kenya first which would have cost them US$15,000 alone.

But to get the container to the Ugandan border from Kenya, it would have cost another US$5000, while they would have been billed a further US$4000 to get the container to its destined location in northern Uganda.

With the mounting costs getting too high for the organisation, they eventually pulled the plug on the project.

Project leader Jack Hayes said the extremely high bill simply outweighed the purpose of what the Lions Club were trying to achieve.

“It was disappointing,” he said.

“All the clubs got together and helped load the container and sorted everything, and then at the end, it was impossible to complete the project as planned. It just went on and on with arrangements not being made, and then we found out how expensive it was going to be. It was going to cost us more than $20,000, so it was never going to happen.”

The goods even reaching Uganda became an issue.

“Other people have done something similar to this for Uganda and they’ve had the container arrive empty, so that was a problem we had to think about too.”

Thankfully, some quick thinking meant the items didn’t go to waste.

After deliberation, the Lions reached out to the Samoan and Fijian communities through their Lions Club links to see if they wanted a share of the items.

Both groups declined the offer because items that had previously been sent by New Zealander’s with good intentions ended up being the wrong things the two Pacific island nations needed.

“It was just the wrong stuff,” Hayes said.

“We had a lot of winter clothing, and its summer there, so they would have ended up with a lot of waste clothing and items to dispose of. They really needed money. They would much rather have money and support the local Island economy and buy stationery or whatever the need was.”

Hayes said they then went to the four Lions Clubs in Fiji, which are part of the New Zealand Lions territory and invited them to develop programmes to help their community, which they would fund by selling the donated goods and the shipping container.

Lions Club volunteers prepare the items for one of the Saturday sales they had to raise money for Fijian communities.

They then set up shop in the Solway Showgrounds grandstand, which was given to them to use for free, and sold the items at bargain prices over the past two Saturdays.

“We sold most of the items for $1, while a Warehouse shopping bag of items went for $5, or $10 for a banana box full,” Hayes said.

Although not selling out of all items, they still managed to muster up over $1600 over those two days.

Hayes said he was happy with the way everything went because at the end of the day it was a win-win situation for everyone.

“We’ve given a lot to local charity and iwi as well as given schools like Makoura College a chance to help themselves to items that they can recycle before we started selling which was great.

“We know many families are stretched right now so this was a chance for them to get family clothing or gift for Christmas.

“All the net proceeds will support the Fiji Lion Clubs to meet their Fijian communities’ very challenging needs. They are in a far worse position than we are.”

Hayes said there were still items ready to be sold and that the Lions Club would be doing another sale in the New Year from Carterton.



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