In March, 2014 I had the privilege, as a guest of Peter Drysdale, of visiting Koripita (Village of Peter), a small town just outside Fiji’s second biggest city, Lautoka, home to some of the country’s poorest people.
[PLEASE NOTE: I do not act for Koroipita or provide contact details. Please direct your inquiries direct to Peter Drysdale, Lautoka, Fiji.]
Koripita is the home of about 1,000 people living in comfortable 2-roomed houses with amenities, located near Lautoka, Fiji. Conceived, developed and maintained by Peter Drysdale and his loyal crew, including residents, and many overseas volunteers, Koripita is a life giving community and an outstanding model of how a good quality of life can be provided for such large numbers of under-privileged people.
I’m in awe of what Peter has achieved here with very limited resources. Financial support is provided by the New Zealand Government and Rotary in Australia (Tasmania), and input from Habitat.
To see it is to believe it! 120 individual 2-room homes with two sections separated by a breezeway, with one containing two bedrooms, and the other a kitchen, shower and toilet. All buildings are connected to an efficient environment friendly sewer system and the area has deep concrete culverts running alongside the well constructed internal roads to carry away heavy rainfall.
A workshop on site builds the basic metal frames for the foundation and walls of houses and a ‘coffin’, as Peter refers to it, contains everything a team needs to assemble each home, right down to the last nut and bolt! Lo and behold any team that gets to the end of building a house and still has a screw left in the ‘coffin’ – such is the detailed planning that has gone into constructing these dwellings.
Each home has a wood burning stove built and perfected by Peter over many years. Wood for the stoves, along with small teiteis and other rich vegetation provide food for the tenants and for bartering with other villagers. Rental is set at FJD$1 (AUD$0.60) per day.
Strict rules apply for conduct within the compound, which is leased from local owners, and a series of teams/groups (councils) share responsibility for managing the village, all overseen by Headman Peter – Hence the name Koripita, which grew from residents keen to acknowledge the tremendous amount of input Peter has contributed to their lives.
I’m told that many residents have named their sons Peter in honour of and in recognition of the work Peter Drysdale has done in helping them raise their standard of living. It was truly inspiring to see six women attending computer classes on site and taught by a resident who has taught herself about computers.
There is a kindergarten and large hall (provided by the Australian Government at a cost of $300,000) which seats 450 people. The village will use this hall to cater for events such as weddings to raise money for the village and building the next stage. A local bus passes by the village to take people to Lautoka.
Currently Peter is the local Sheriff, builder, and social worker. This model town is just a small sample of the homes Peter has built in the North Western area of Fiji – 913 in total over some 25 years! Congratulations and hats off to you Peter for making such a selfless contribution to uplifting the well-being of so many under-privileged people in Fiji and helping them lead more meaningful lives.
The project is formally administered by the Board of the Koroipita Model Town Charitable Trust.
In recognition of his tireless, selfless work caring for disadvantaged Fijians and the provision of low-cost housing for disadvantaged Fijians, through his Koroipita Model Town Charitable Trust, Peter Drysdale, a dual Australian and Fijian citizen, was recognised in Australia with an Order of Australia medal in January, 2015.