New Forest teen swaps rain for Fiji sunshine and meets the island’s Prime Minister

Bournemouth Echo: SPECIAL: Francoise Bennett, Owen Doel, PM Commodore Bainimarama, Mark Madra and Cassie Wright during the opening of the Dawasamu Secondary School SPECIAL: Francoise Bennett, Owen Doel, PM Commodore Bainimarama, Mark Madra and Cassie Wright during the opening of the Dawasamu Secondary School

A YOUNG woman who swapped showers in the New Forest for sunshine in Fiji left the island’s prime minister smiling last week after they shared a joke about the weather.

Francoise Bennett, a former student at Brockenhurst College, is spending five months volunteering at a school in the north east of the island with the charity Global Vision International.

The 19-year-old was photographed laughing with the island’s prime minister, Commodore Josaia Bainimarama, when he visited the school to open new classrooms and teachers’ accommodation.

Her father, David Bennett, asked what they were laughing about after seeing the photograph on the social networking site Facebook.

Mr Bennett said: “I asked her why he was laughing. She told me he had said to her ‘it’s really hot here’ and she told him ‘it’s really wet in England’.

“He said he would rather live someone where it was wet and they said they agreed they had both been brought up in the wrong country.”

The teenager, who is planning to study classics at university in September, told her father she had been looking forward to Mr Bainimarama’s visit.

“She was really excited,” Mr Bennett said.

“It’s not every day a young person gets to meet a prime minister. I suggested because it is such a small island he probably comes to greet everyone,” he joked.

The teenager, who travelled to New Zealand and Australia before going to Fiji, has been working at the school for four weeks as a teaching assistant.

“She’s having a great time,” Mr Bennett said.

The 53-year-old added: “She even told a newspaper over there she was having such a good time she wasn’t going to come home.”

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