An Undaunting Prospect
ROTARY NEW ZEALAND and CYCLONE WINSTON - An Undaunting Prospect
The reality is Cyclone Winston will most likely, in time, be recorded as the worst Pacific Disaster ever in terms of property loss and loss of livelihoods. Direct contact with Rotary and other NGO’s in Fiji would confirm this. Cyclone Winston has been selective, tens of thousands have lost everything whereas some have lost nothing. Rotary Fiji has responded magnificently and local business have provided trucks and other hardware to distribute Rotary New Zealand’s Emergency Response Kits together with Food Packs around the two main islands and out to outlying islands. Rotarians have given countless hours along with a team of supporters to deliver. Thanks go to the RNZAF for shipments of further Emergency Response Kits on two C130 aircraft that travelled to Suva late last week. A Rotarian out distributing in Fiji reports : “Emergency Response Kits and Food Parcels all funded by Rotary New Zealand, together with clothing, bottled water and fresh fruit and vegetables were distributed in two districts on Sunday. In the past week a constant parade of organisations and individuals have mobilised to take goods to the needy. Today it was no different and in my 20 years experience the largest mobilisation of people from Suva travelled to the affected areas in private cars, taxis, commercial vehicles, trucks and buses.
Our convoy was the largest Rotary has ever put together; over 30 vehicles and over 100 volunteers. A very humbling and soul warming experience. As we split up into approximately 30 communities, it would seem one week later most had still not received any significant support. The scale of this disaster is undaunting. And this just on the main island of Veti Levu. let alone all the other island communities ! Euphoria from experiencing the humility and tenacity of the villagers plus exhaustion from sheer hard work and negligible sleep for 1 week is washing over me but I'm absolutely convinced the resilience of the people of Fiji will prevail.” NGO’s including Rotary will soon move from response to recovery. Fijians are clearing the debris, salvaging what they can of the buildings that have been wrecked and are building shelters which will act as home until more permanent structures are built. One consensus suggests concentration on getting the schools back to some form of normality. Like many countries the Fiji Government provide the teachers, the community provide the buildings and infrastructure. First priority, repair or replace the teacher’s quarters. This will reduce the possibility of them returning to their homes villages and being lost to the schools. Once the teachers have housing, repair the school buildings that can be used to house the children and then the rebuild will follow.
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