It all began with an accidental encounter from tagging along to a social event where we weren't invited. In other words, we gate-crashed a party!
To put this into perspective, a friend of ours who was the Interim Country Director of World Vision in Solomon Islands back in January, asked us to tag along to a double birthday party he was invited to attend for two Australian High Commission employees. Near the end of the party (where we were graciously made to feel very welcome) Vanessa and I were approached by another guest who is an Australian Federal Police Officer. He introduced himself and asked us how we were connected to the birthday boys. After a bit of a laugh about how we came to be at the party, he inquired further about our role with The Salvation Army. This conversation revealed that the AFP Officer, Darren McClelland, was looking for a 'project' outside of his work role to engage in while in Honiara that would make a difference in the lives of the people he is here to serve. A follow-up coffee appointment at the Lime Lounge Cafe (aka our 'Office') found an alignment of opportunity between Darren's desire to engage in a philanthropic project and our vision to explore the possibility of starting a Red Shield Appeal in the Solomon Islands.
An accidental encounter and an alignment of opportunities led to the formation of the very first Red Shield Appeal Committee for the Solomon Islands with Darren appointed as the Chairperson. Darren wasted no time in recruiting three other committee members from among his AFP colleagues working with the Solomon Islands Police Development Program (SIPDP). This brought together some powerhouse volunteers who have expertise in procurement, planning and event management. It was truly a pleasure working with such a motivated team who leveraged their networks to obtain some amazing sponsorship for our first RSA event, a Fundraising Dinner at one of the premier venues in Honiara, the Heritage Park Hotel.
After a couple of months of planning, the Red Shield Appeal Fundraising Dinner was held on Friday, 13th July with 115 people from local businesses and community organisations in Honiara gathering to support the The Salvation Army Solomon Islands Ministries. A very fine buffet dinner was accompanied by the musical talents of local band 'Set Wan' and followed by the auction of sponsored items, which included: 3 night package for two including double/twin share bungalow, continental breakfasts and return airfares (Sanbis Resort & Solomon Airlines); 3 nights accommodation package (Papatura Resort); ten $100 vouchers (Bulk Store); designer chair (Ozdesign Furniture); Garmin 64s handheld GPS (Y-sato Marine); $3,000 donation, Samsung Galaxy phone, Huaweii Y3ii phone (Our Telekom); 2 night weekend dive trip for 1 person (Bilikiki); Smootharc Welder (BOC); personal care package & spa vouchers (Jings Spa); remedial/therapeutic massage vouchers (Charles Gauba); gift baskets with soaps, oils & lavalavas (Kokonut Pacific & Salvation Army); aluminium framed mirror (Tropic Glass & Aluminium); WW2 Guadalcanal Battlefield tour for 4 by former US Marine.
The dinner and sponsored items raised a combined total of SBD$89,200! This is a phenomenal result for our inaugural Red Shield Appeal event. The money raised will be used by The Salvation Army to purchase a DME (Direct Micro Expelling) set-up from Kokonut Pacific to establish a coconut oil plant at Gateway Corps in North Malaita to provide employment for the surrounding villages, foster community development, and generate income to resource our rapidly growing mission and ministry across Malaita.
We are delighted with the success of this event, not only for the money raised, but for the new networks established that will provide a platform of ongoing supporters for the future development of The Salvation Army in the Solomon Islands. All of this because we gate-crashed a party six months ago!