New Beith woman Deanne Schulz and her friends have provided financial support to a large family in Fiji over the past 15 months since their country became affected by Covid-19 lockdowns.
Their generosity has helped Fiji pastor Waise Bakani and his wife Zeny to support their seven adult children, six grandchildren, friends and neighbours during the Covid-19 crisis.
The impact of Covid-19 on the tourism industry put Zeny out of work, and lockdowns prevented Waise from working at the church.
“Since Covid began they’ve had no income,” Mrs Schulz said.
“They’ve done it very, very tough; it’s gotten down to day-by-day.”
Deanne Schulz and her husband Rick first met Waise and Zeny Bakani on a trip to Fiji five years ago and maintained contact through Facebook messenger.
Following the trip, the church sent bibles and other gifts to the Bakani family.
“We were able to send 14 Fijian bibles, which is what they really wanted,” she said.
Mrs Schulz said the Bakani family had an emergency with their son and could not afford medical support and food.
“The church started to support them with buying groceries, getting them to the doctor and getting some antibiotics,” she said.
Every week, members of the ladies bible study group from New Beith Baptist Church have donated $5 each to a kit which is transferred to the Bakani family.
“It’s gotten to the point some days where they’ve been so desperate, they’ve been standing there waiting for the money to arrive so they can buy food,” Mrs Schulz said.
The money enabled the Bakani family to buy seeds and gardening supplies to start a garden, which produced vegetables to feed themselves and the extended community.
The family often couldn’t afford to buy essentials like deodorant, shampoo or meat, and meals were sometimes limited to sweet potatoes.
They used to rely on fishing, which was banned during lockdowns.
“When you’ve got seven children and extended family living with you, it’s a lot to try and feed everybody,” she said.
“God has provided for them; he’s made a way.”
Last week Zeny was able to purchase a twin-tub washing machine for the family after two years of handwashing for 10 people.
Mrs Schulz said the main reason for their mission was for their money to help other people who really needed it.
The Bakani family was very grateful for the support provided by Deanne and her friends and always expressed their thanks.
“They don’t take it for granted – they appreciate the help so much, because it’s made such a difference,” Mrs Schulz said.
The team of women helping the Bakani family to survive include Kaylene, Sharon, Mandy, Roseann, Marianne, Susan, Sue, Mary, Sylvia, Lynda, Heather, Helen and Deanne.
They meet every Wednesday morning at New Beith Baptist Church for craft, socializing, lunch, bible study, and praying for each other and the needs of other people.
Anyone in the Logan West community who would like to donate to friends and neighbours of the Bakani family can contact Deanne Schulz on 0400 226 122 for more information.