Saturday, August 18, 2007

A Scotsman love for FIJI

HE is not a Fijian nor of Fiji nationality but remains a Fijian at heart.
Tony Millard came to Fiji in 1976 from Scotland as a volunteer teacher and fell in love with the people and place.
"This is the most amazing place I have ever been to," he said.
"There is no place like Fiji. It is a friendly, warm and welcoming country.
"You don't have to rush around doing things here and there like in other places.
"There is a mix of traditional culture between Fijians, Indians and other races which enrich the nation as a whole and this is what makes it unique.
"We don't have this cultural integration in the UK. In western way of life, I think we take many things way too seriously.
"There are a lot of things to be learnt from the Fijian culture."
He said there are problems and tensions in Fiji but it was nothing compared to other countries.
"Fiji is not as bad as other countries.
"The amount of physical violence and crime happening in the UK is nowhere in comparison to Fiji. That's why I say Fiji is the best country."
Millard taught at Savusavu Secondary School and spent five years in the country before returning to Scotland. During the five years, Millard became so well versed with the local people and culture that he saw himself as a Fijian.
"I am 54 but still young at heart."
He married Loata Navu. They have three children and they live in Scotland.
Millard left Fiji in 1981 but always maintained a close link with people of Savusavu.
His love for the country brought him back in 1999 when he started working on a project to familiarise Fiji with his people back at home.
The Fiji Merchiston Millennium 3 Project is his idea through which young students from Scotland get a chance to visit Fiji and get to taste the lifestyle of a tropical country.
"I liaised with the principal of Batibalavu District School in Savusavu to allow students of Merchiston Castle School in Scotland to come here once a year and experience the lifestyle here because it is so different from what we have back home.
"The project officially got started in 2000.
"This year we raised $30,000 through fundraising at our school and brought a batch of 12 students accompanied by four teachers.
"We ask the students to apply, why they want to be part of the project and come to Fiji and they are selected on that basis.
"The students who come with us are all first-timers here and apart from touring around the country, they also get to stay with a Fijian family in the village to experience the traditional way of life.
"I bring young people because my aim is to keep generating the intercultural relationship and let our people know about this beautiful paradise, the generosity of people, the food, climate and everything which is just so different from our place."
Millard said even though he resided in Scotland, he would always carry the beauty and uniqueness of Fiji in his heart and continue influencing others in his country about Fiji.
"I don't think there is any other place in the world like Fiji."
The group arrived on July 4 and left two weeks ago. Steph Godfrey, one of the students in the batch said he was fortunate to come and visit Fiji.
"This is my first time to this country and this place is just fantastic.
"I think this sort of opportunity is rare and that's why I took the interest to be part of the project.
"It is a very different experience to live with a Fijian family and they are just so generous and nice," said Steph.

Adapted from Fijitimes Online