FIJI Water received a surprise “Special Citation Award” from the U.S. Ambassador to Fiji during the commissioning of the FIJI Water Foundation‘s most recent water project on Monday.
The citation from Ambassador Steven McGann recognized FIJI Water for being a finalist for the State Department’s 2010 Award for Corporate Excellence. FIJI Water received the Corporate Excellence award in 2004, and this year was one of 12 finalists out of a field of 78 nominees.
The commissioning ceremony in the village of Keiyasi in Navosa, Fiji, marked the completion of three boreholes and the installation of clean water tanks funded by the FIJI Water Foundation. The successful water project provides a safe and local source of water for villagers, who previously had to march to the distant Sigatoka River to find water.
A Water Project 40 Years in the Making
The Keiyasi project was the result of a chance encounter between Sharee Lipton, a writer, and David Roth, Director External Affairs for FIJI Water, during a launch party for Lipton’s book A Woman in the South Pacific at the U.S. Ambassador’s residence last year.
Lipton, who first visited Keiyasi exactly 40 years before Monday’s ceremony, conveyed to Roth the village’s difficulty in procuring clean water. Roth helped Lipton connect the foundation with Apenisa Lolawa, the great-nephew of one of Lipton’s acquaintances in Keiyasi, who applied for the grant on behalf of the village.
Recognizing Our Sustained Commitment
Ambassador McGann was joined by the U.S. Embassy’s Second Secretary for Consular and Commercial Affairs Paul Kreutzer, Roth, Dr. Vilsoni Hereniko representing Lipton, and the Foundation’s team, all of whom defied warnings from the weather office to attend the ceremony at the remote village.
“From a record 78 nominations submitted by U.S. Ambassadors around the world, ACE finalists are international corporate leaders who recognize the vital role that U.S. businesses play abroad as good corporate citizens,” said McGann during the ceremony. “FIJI Water was recognized for the company’s disaster relief efforts, volunteerism, partnerships that focus on health, education, and the provision of sustainable and effective water projects around the nation of Fiji.”
The U.S. Ambassador was the first sitting diplomat to visit Keiyasi, and his presence was greatly appreciated by all in attendance.
“This has been a remarkable day,” said FIJI Water’s Roth. “We are humbled by the ambassador’s presentation and honoured to have become a positive part of Keiyasi’s development and its history. The water project we commissioned today is not only for the people who reside in Keiyasi today, but for all the children that will live here tomorrow.”