Read important updates on Federation Project Sanctuary Shelter for Women from Past President and Federation Project Liaison Theresa Lyford.

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The Building of the Soroptimist International of the South West Pacific Federation Project, Sanctuary: Shelter for Women, is almost finished. There are just some minor matters and finishing touches prior to the finalisation of the construction process and the next big task is furnishing of the building so that it will be ready for use when it will be handed over to the Ministry of Women in the Fiji Government – date to be advised soon.

Help is still needed from Clubs for further funding to enable us to complete the furnishing task. This is your project (voted on at Conference of Clubs 2016 in Sydney, and agreement to continue at the Conference of Clubs in 2018 in Melbourne). On behalf of the Sanctuary project team I would like to thank those Clubs across the Federation who have made generous donations towards this important stage of the project – especially to the Clubs in Singapore, New Zealand Victoria and New South Wales and friends of Clubs in Fiji, who embraced our call to action late last year to raise funds for furnishing and furniture.

As we near the Conference of Clubs 2020 in the lovely Indonesian city of Jogjakarta in May, there has been some serious discussions with incoming President Suman Lal and the Sanctuary Project Team about the next stage of this wonderful Federation Project. Some of the matters that have been discussed – not yet finalised and will be launched at the Conference of Clubs 2020 by incoming President Suman Lal and her team – focus on other aspects of the Project which were proposed back in 2016.

Members who attended the Conference of Clubs in 2016 might remember that the vision for this project in Fiji was for a further 5 Shelters to be built (6 in total) and this was the longer-term plan. The initial building was for the Federation Project 2016-18, 2018-20, as this was felt to be a more realistic goal to achieve. Our Soroptimist sisters in Fiji have worked very hard to bring this current building to fruition, and it has been a very long journey with many challenges to overcome.

The Clubs in Fiji have embraced the next stage of the project which is focussed on providing services through community engagement projects – working with the Ministry of Women to achieve training and skills development for the women who spend time at the Shelter to enable them to build better lives for themselves and children.

Some possibilities for where we go from here with the project could include;

The investigation of using Corporate Donors to work with the Clubs in Fiji to source funding for further Shelter buildings. We have had very initial discussions with Soroptimist International President Sharon Fisher, and how we might propose this as a project through the SI President's Appeal-Road to Equality for perhaps the completion of another home in another location in Fiji. Our Current Project Manager Dr Maria Doton wishes to continue managing the project and any other National Project that may occur in relation to this activity in Fiji. Dr Maria Doton has built up wonderful relationships with local government agencies, local businesses and City Councils and is also very closely associated with Ministry of Women and we have just heard that SI Sigatoka has received a Grant from Fiji Women’s’ Fund where an application was sought for Economic and Empowering/Life Skilling programs from the Shelter Homes as well.

There are many valuable activities and ideas being put forward to provide the sustainability of this project, the Sanctuary for Shelter building and community engagement and all will be reviewed to work towards the next stage of this wonderful project.

For now, we are in our final stages of organising the Contract and MOU for the handover of our building to the Fijian Ministry of Women and planning is focussed on this activity and for an Opening Ceremony and Official Handover in the next couple of months. Please watch this space, continue to undertake fundraising for the fit-out of the building so that when we go to Conference of Clubs 2020 in May, you will be able to see the outcomes of all the hard work and fundraising that has occurred thus far to bring Sanctuary: Shelter for Women in Lautoka, Fiji to fruition.

Theresa Lyford
Past President 2016-2018
Federation Project Liaison


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