As we help rural Fijian communities improve their sanitation, we often get assistance from government volunteers - members of the military, local officials and even ministry directors.
And in early February one of those volunteers just happened to be Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama.
The prime minister returned to his home village of Kiuva, Talievu Province to aid Field Ready staff and village residents in the assembly and installation of 13 new latrines there. The project - which is in partnership with the Fiji Ministry of Health and Medical Services - also included another 13 latrines assembled and installed in nearby Muaisara.
Many of the 200 Kiuva residents and the 170-plus residents of Muaisara turned out to see the country's most prominent official at the installation. The latrines, designed by Field Ready engineers with input from Fijian users, are locally made in Suva.
"It was very good to have his support in his home village as we are trying to improve people lives with the new latrines," said Field Ready Operations Manager Jean Matthias. The latrines not only help improve sanitation and help stave off water-borne diseases, they're also cheaper, quicker to install and easier to clean than the cement toilets they're replacing, she noted.
The projects are part of a larger effort to improve rural communities' health across Fiji; Fiji MoHMS has ordered 1,000 of the latrines and will erect them where they're most needed.
The new latrines in Kiuva will serve about 65 people, officials said, while the latrines in Muaisara will serve some 62 people.
Members of each village pitched in to assemble the latrines and get them installed; five residents in Kiuva worked with Field Ready staff and government volunteers to build and place the 13 latrines there, while eight Muaisara residents worked with our team to build and place their village's 13 latrines.
Residents of each respective village are also building shelters for every one of the new latrines, Matthias said, a project which is still underway.
(Pictured above are Jean Matthias, Krishneel Singh and Jope Tamanikairewa with Fiji's Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama.)
We appreciate the prime minister's support - and look forward to the next installation!