The Trans Pacific Union Mission office in Tamavua, Suva, Fiji, is now a disability-friendly space, thanks to extensive retrofitting work coordinated by ADRA (Adventist Development and Relief Agency) Fiji. The official handover ceremony of the new accessible facilities was held on September 26, 2023 at the TPUM headquarters.
This initiative is part of the larger Fiji Disaster Ready Churches project, funded by the South Pacific Division of the Seventh-day Adventists through ADRA South Pacific.
The Fiji Disabled Peoples Federation (FDPF) joined the celebration, which marked a significant step forward in ensuring inclusivity and accessibility for all members of the FDPF community.
Jay Nasilasila, FDPF Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) program coordinator, addressed the gathering with enthusiasm, emphasizing the importance of this milestone for the FDPF community. “We believe that everyone, regardless of their physical abilities, deserves the same opportunities and access to public spaces. It is a fundamental principle of equality that we hold dear. Today, we are taking concrete steps to turn this principle into a reality,” he said.
Nasilasila further explained the detailed design of the facilities, highlighting their convenience and comfort for individuals with diverse needs. “We have worked closely with experts and the disability community to ensure that these facilities meet the highest standards of accessibility,” he added.
Nasilasila emphasized that this effort was not just a legal obligation but a testament to the church’s commitment to creating a more inclusive society. “We firmly believe that accessibility is a shared responsibility, and for the church to be setting this example, we hope you will inspire others to do the same.”
As part of the Fiji Disaster Ready Churches Project, a total of seven church properties of the Fiji Mission have undergone retrofitting to become more inclusive. This initiative supplements the nationwide disaster risk management training in local churches, equipping members with knowledge to prepare for any disasters.
Pastor Maveni Kaunfononga, TPUM president, expressed his gratitude to ADRA Fiji for initiating the project. He emphasized that this endeavor is an acknowledgment and recognition of the love and care the church has for its members with disabilities. “In God’s kingdom, there is love, and that love must be practiced while we are here in this world, so this project is a reflection of God’s love for us,” said Pastor Kaufononga.
Ana Alburqueque, ADRA South Pacific advisor, emphasized ADRA’s commitment to helping churches in the Pacific become disaster-ready, given the region’s vulnerability to disasters. She noted that the team is actively working to assist five regional countries.