First Africa, Now Fiji! JACARA Is Making A Difference!

If all goes as planned, on October 14th I will be meeting Jasmine in  the village of Vivili, near Savusavu, Fiji. Jasmine and Jared will be leaving for their journey on Sept. 26th, Jared will be staying for two weeks, while Jasmine will remain for another two weeks. She and I will once again have the opportunity to work side by side, helping the people of this beautiful country. When I think of working  side by side with my lovely daughter I get a very warm feeling in my heart. Her love of the Fijian people will flow freely, as we spend time working to make their daily lives a little easier. Her patience , understanding and love will help guide me to give all I can, unconditionally. As she did in Africa, I’m sure she will gently remind me that things do not change overnight, that I must be patient and understanding with the gentle people of Fiji. It is not my intent to try and change the Fijian people and their way of life, only help teach them how to improve their living conditions. Fiji fundrasing photo

A few years ago I a made a vow to myself that I would spend one month each year giving back, not by sending money, supplies and clothing, but to physically go to where there is need, and volunteer my time. When I made that decision, I never thought Fiji would be so high on my list. I can not take the credit for my decision, mostly it is due to the persistent coaxing of  my most determined son-in-law, Jared. He is the one that introduced me to Naqaqa Giving Foundation (, and encouraged me to begin working towards raising the funds so I may venture on this very needed humanitarian mission.

The only thing I knew about Fiji was what Jasmine and Jared shared with me, as they have been there before. Yes, there was beauty beyond belief but what sticks most in my mind is their love of the Fijian people. their urgent need to get back to Fiji, not as a visitor but as a volunteer. fiji + Jasmine

My first thought was, “who is going to donate money for me to go to Fiji?” Fiji!…….that is a traveler’s dream come true! How can I ask for money to take me to a place so many others want to go! Then I began reading about all the good NGF is doing for the people of Fiji. Yes, Fiji is a beautiful, warm, tropical Country, very far away and very costly to get to. When I thought of Fiji, I thought of blue skies, beautiful clear waters and white sandy  beaches. What I did not envision was poverty,  lack of medical care, schools and natural resources. Like me, what most people do not realize is that, 31% of Fijians live in absolute poverty. Few have access to healthcare, reliable food source, or a living wage. Because there is no war or widespread famine, the country is often overlooked by world media and large aid organizations. In an area that relies nearly entirely on tourism, the collapse in the world economy has left few jobs for even the most qualified individuals. Simply: people need help in Fiji. I was sold!

When I first contacted NGF and submitted the application for their volunteer immersion program, I was told “the program is normally open only to current college students, however, you seem like an ideal candidate for our program. I’ll forward this email to our Executive Director in Fiji, and see what he says”. A college student I am not, but for those of you that know me, know I am not easily discouraged and I can be quite persistent when it comes to something I want, and more importantly believe in! That was April of 2012.

A year later I found myself volunteering not in Fiji, but in Uganda Africa. It was through that experience that I learned the meaning of truly giving back. Although that experience was very difficult at times, it helped me to realize how much I wanted, needed to be a part of helping and working towards changing things, not only on a local level but on a global level.

Now I find myself a year and a half later frantically working to raise the necessary funds to go and help a foundation that is one of the only organizations doing this type of work in all the country.

I watched in awed silence as Jasmine and Jared worked endlessly to raise over $13,000 between the two of them. They successfully accomplished this task, not by holding a major fundraiser, as most people do, but by asking for help, one person at a time. I am in complete awe of the number of people that came forward to unselfishly help them in their mission. jared and fiji

As for me, I was given a much easier fundraising opportunity. It is through the mere act of giving, that my employers Dan and Lori Butts of Chinooks Waterfront Restaurant, have agreed to host their second annual Swine Fest and donate ALL the proceeds to my Fiji Charity Fund. For them they are happy to help and give back, for me, I am forever grateful for their selfless act.

To purchase tickets to the Swine Fest please contact Cathy at If you are unable to attend the fest, your ticket will be donated locally to someone that would like to attend, but cannot afford the $25.00 fee.

To donate directly, go to the DONATE NOW page at and designate your donation for Cathy Gonzalez’s Fundraising.

To learn more about volunteer opportunities and NGF please visit

JACARA will donate 10% of all sales for the month of September to Cathy’s Fiji Fund.



Cathy and the JACARA Team