We would like to thank our recent Fijian visitors from the remote southern island of Kadavu for their outstanding volunteer efforts at Tilbuster Station over the Christmas Holidays.
Alan Breenan, CEO of Pathfinders, commends the Fijian volunteers for their dedication and generosity. “We extend our deepest appreciation to the Fijian men who have contributed their time and energy to assist our staff and young people at Tilbuster Station. Their commitment to giving back reflects the spirit of unity and care that defines our community. We are extremely grateful for their meaningful contributions.”
Upon the group’s arrival in Australia last year, Tilbuster Station staff, including Toni, Semi, Ray, and youth worker Tarai (Mr T), warmly welcomed the 60 Fijian men. Recognising the challenges of settling into a new environment, the Tilbuster team has been providing essential items such as warm clothing, blankets, sleeping bags, and food to support the group’s transition.
The Tilbuster team also conducts bi-monthly welfare checks, ensuring the well-being of the Fijian men and identifying any additional support needed. During our check-ins, the group expressed genuine interest in the work Pathfinders do at Tilbuster Station. Their compassion and interest reflect the cultural values instilled in them from their traditional Fijian upbringing, where caring for the young, old, and unwell is a collective responsibility.
In October last year, plans were made for the group to visit Armidale over Christmas, allowing them to experience Tilbuster Station and meet our staff. The men not only wanted to visit Tilbuster but also expressed a desire to contribute in any way they could. They offered to spend a few days with our staff in the paddocks, pulling weeds to help with preparations for the Pathfinders 2024 Pumpkin Run.
On December 22, Semi and another staff member picked up 13 of the men from Grafton and drove them to Armidale for the weekend. Four additional Fijian men from Inverell and one from Melbourne joined forces with the team for the weekend. From December 23rd to 25th, they worked tirelessly in the paddocks, enjoying their time helping and cultivating a sense of camaraderie through shared labour.
The local Armidale Fijian Men’s group generously provided three meals a day for the workers. On Christmas Day, a special dinner at Mr T’s residence featured thanksgiving prayers and speeches acknowledging Pathfinders’ youth in care and the organisation’s vital services. They also reminded our Fijian staff who work at Pathfinders of their duty to care for those less fortunate.
The men returned to Grafton on Boxing Day, expressing gratitude for the support and kindness they received while in Armidale. They have since suggested that they would like to make their trip to Armidale an annual event, continuing to support Pathfinders’ youth and assist with the Pathfinders Pumpkin Run.
As Pathfinders continues to grow in staff numbers, and our existing staff and young people are being exposed to staff from many other new ethnicities and cultures. This sharing of cross-cultural knowledge will enhance our young people’s views of the larger world and will become a valuable learning experience.
The Tilbuster team looks forward to the future, and they extend warm wishes for a Happy New Year to all.