Thanks to the outpouring of financial support from devotees of Avatar Adi Da Samraj and many others around the world, as well as the onsite efforts of professional crews and volunteers, it has been a year of great progress in restoring Naitauba from the devastation caused by Cyclone Winston two years ago. We thank you all for your great help in this process. In the wake of the cyclone, it was estimated that it would take four years and millions of dollars to repair and restore the destruction caused by the huge storm. Now, a little over two years into the recovery process, it is obvious that there is much work yet to be done, but the progress has also been immensely gratifying. In this update, you will hopefully get a sense of what has been accomplished.
To begin, it is wonderful to see that the pristine grandeur and beauty of the island itself has come back. It is verdant, with its magnificent vegetation restored, and there is a profound feeling of Avatar Adi Da’s Presence Pervading every inch of this beautiful silent Sanctuary. There is a great sense of the Sacred Nature of this Holy Place and how unique it is in the world.
Yet it continues to be very creative and challenging to construct new buildings in such a remote location, more than a hundred miles over deep ocean to the nearest primary source of materials. And on many occasions what is delivered has to be offloaded to punts outside the reef and brought to shore from there.
Despite the challenges, tremendous progress has been made, the primary example being the construction of a new school and safe house for the staff and their families. The project consists of two multi-classroom school buildings and a third reservoir building for the staff village, which is fed by catchment rain water. All three buildings are designed to withstand the most ferocious hurricane winds and built on higher ground away from storm surges. They are made of the strongest concrete and steel. The school buildings will double as as a safe place of refuge for all staff and their families whenever a cyclone approaches the island. It is wonderful to see that this most essential life-safety complex has now been completed and will be formally opened soon. Here are a couple of photos showing the buildings as they progressed to completion, and a shot of those most responsible for making it it happen (special thanks in this regard goes again to the Canadian masonry crew who paid their own way to Naitauba at the hottest time of the year and erected all the walls in under two weeks, and also the indefatigable local construction crew from Taveuni):
The residents and staff at Naitauba are rightly proud of the new building It is the largest complex ever built on Naitauba and is pretty unique for the remote outer islands of this part of Fiji.
Another major priority after Cyclone Winston was the building of a fully air-conditioned and secure facility on higher ground to safely store sacred artifacts from Temples and Holy Places that are located closer to the ocean. These most precious artifacts will be moved to the storage building for protection whenever a cyclone approaches Naitauba. Despite many delays in getting material to the island, this secure storage building is now under construction:
Like the school, it will be a very strong and resilient building, safely housing the most precious sacred objects. Over time, the sacred Temples that are currently located at sea level will be moved to higher ground, re-built to withstand the most intense hurricanes, and will hold their sacred artifacts permanently. In the meantime, this new storage facility will be of greatest importance.
Many other projects have been finished over the last year also. A good example is a building called “Tangible Touch” which is on the wharf where visitors land. It was almost completely destroyed in Winston. Here are two pictures – the first taken right after the storm, and the second a recent shot:
Like many of the buildings that have been re-built at Naitauba, Tangible Touch has been fully restored and also made much more resilient. It is a good example of the many structures that need to stay close to sea level for now but have been significantly upgraded and greatly strengthened.
Another example of projects that have been completed is a group of new “bures”, or Fijian-style small homes, that have been re-built and made much stronger in the staff village of Ciqomi. Here again are photos of a typical bure – one just after the storm, and another an interior shot showing it fully restored:
In this update it would be impossible to show all the other restoration work that has been accomplished in the last two years. Suffice it to say that many Temples, Holy Sites, residential buildings, farm structures, solar panels, offices, and other structures have been repaired and re-built. So, Naitauba is much more resilient than it was before the cyclone despite the very real losses that were experienced. Much remains to be done. Some of the Temples that were flattened have yet to be relocated and re-built at higher ground. Some of the residences that were destroyed are yet to be restored. But it is amazing what has been actually accomplished nonetheless, with your help and support and the tireless work of the architects and builders. Thank you with all our hearts for everything you have done to serve the re-building process such that this Holy Island is again shining in its resplendent beauty and untouched glory.