Wednesday 15th March 2017 marks the 1 year anniversary since the untimely passing of the Fijian rugby legend, Seru Rabeni. To honour his memory, a dedicated web site www.serurabeni.com and the Seru Rabeni Fund have been set up to continue fundraising activities initially started by Seru himself when playing in England; help his local community in Fiji through providing education and build a pathway for Fijian youth with international rugby and education opportunities serving as a springboard to a better future.
The Fund was set up by one of Hong Kong’s most prominent rugby clubs, the DB Pirates, where Seru’s last signing was as Head Coach/Player. His life partner, Susan Macdonald, has continued to work with the Ministry of Education in Fiji to build a kindergarten in his home village, Nasolo, on the remote island of Vanua Levu.
A kindergarten to be named the Seru Rabeni Memorial Kindergarten will be completed in 2017, as Seru grew up with the closest kindergarten located more than 1 hour on foot so only had the village hall for kindergarten activities with classes cancelled if any village events took place. Seru is an example of how sport can change your life, having dedicated himself to rugby at school and swiftly making the transition to representing Fiji. However whilst rugby changed his life, he felt the only way to make a real change to his home village was through education: “The sport saved my life and I was able to play it to the highest level in Fiji earning myself a lifetime opportunity to go and further my studies in Otago, New Zealand. Even though I found some great rewards from playing rugby, it won’t change my village as much.”
In 2015, Seru and Susan started fundraising initiatives in Hong Kong where they lived with their daughter, Ayami, to raise funds to build a dedicated kindergarten in his home village. Seru brought on board the Ministry of Education in Fiji to support the initiative. Unfortunately, the project could not be completed whilst Seru was with us and Susan continued the project where the current Minister for Education, Dr Mahendra Reddy, welcomed the support: “Many thanks for your support towards this dream project of late Seru Rabeni”.
Deacon Manu, Fiji’s former Flying 15s Captain, team mate and friend, has followed in Seru’s footsteps and has recently taken on the role as the DB Pirates Head of Rugby. Deacon shares Seru’s vision with a mission to building an education and rugby pathway offering Fijian youth opportunities in Hong Kong and further afield in order to change their lives: “The Rugby Academy Asia (RRA) Educational Programme introduces the Flying Fijians programme, a dedicated and bespoke package with the key objective of changing the lives of young Fijians and their families through rugby. The initiative uses rugby as means to develop their life by giving them an opportunity to reach their potential. As shared by Deacon: “The ‘Flying Fijians’ programme will see a collaboration between RRA and the Seru Rabeni Fund to give opportunities for young Fijians to experience life in Hong Kong. The partnership will improve the selected Fijian players’ playing and coaching skills to further enhance their rugby careers towards their achieving elite international standards”.
As Sponsors of the Seru Rabeni Fund, DB Pirates, Toll logistics forwarding and Rula Bula with its F&B establishment are key sponsors helping to raise completion funds for the kindergarten as well as focus on key aspects; DB Pirates is managing the governance of the Fund, Rula Bula hosting events and Toll the transportation of the school pre-fabricated building materials and donated school supplies from Hong Kong to Fiji with the support of the Ministry of Education in Fiji.
As Supporters of the Seru Rabeni Fund, Fiji Rugby Union, Hong Kong Rugby Union, Hong Kong Scottish and Leicester Tigers have extended their support.