I visited the Koroipita Model Community during my vacation last week, in Fiji. We have supported this project, alongside Rosie Holidays since 2006 during the Stage 1 project that they called K1.
The first time I visited Koroipita was in 2008 and K1 was almost at completion and had the goal of building a total of 81 homes and 6 communal buildings – office, kindergarten, playground areas, and a general shop. It was then that they started planning for K2 an expansion to add 153 more homes. During my visit, I spent some time with the children and families at Koroipita, and also the head of the project- Peter Drysdale.
Koroipita is the first full development to provide a sustainable community for impoverished families. The goal was not only to provide the squatters and poverty stricken families a cyclone-proof home with running water and electricity, but to help them become independently and financially sustainable. A daily rent of $1 Fijian dollar is collected (the community secures a minimal lease in order to maintain and encourage long term development) and the members of the village grow/sell their own food and create craft products to sell in the village or local towns. The community also has subcontracted with the cut flower market, where Koroipita residents actively grow orchids for sale.
Stage 2 of the project (K2) is currently in full swing, and I was surprised at the growth of the village since I had last visited. Not only have the homes been improved from K1, but the families now have separate bathroom/toilet facilities. There is also a large town hall that was recently constructed with funding from NZAid, the Fiji government, and Rotary International. This will be the main meeting place for the community council, and also acts as a housing unit for volunteers. There are 346 persons living in Koroipita at this time, and when K2 is completed there will be over 1100 residents. I was able to meet with a family who had moved in the day prior to my arrival- A young mother of four. Their belongings only consisted of some blankets in the corner of the house. This woman advised that the rotahome she now occupied was more than she could have ever dreamed up for her children. The fact that they could attend the kindergarten for free was also unbelievable to her.
Seeing the kids at Koroipita is always the most moving aspect of visiting. I was/am genuinely proud that Tahiti Legends in our small way could support this beautiful project.
Here are some photos that I took while visiting Koroipita: http://www.flickr.com/photos/legendsluxurytravel/sets/72157626478057243/
Tahiti Legends, Vice President