A most Happy New Year to all!
Thank you with all our hearts for your incredible support in the wake of Cyclone Winston that hit the Island of Naitauba – Adi Da Samrajashram – in February 2016. The financial and manpower support has been incredibly generous. Many skilled and unskilled devotees and friends have come to serve Adi Da Samrajashram and have made a huge difference in the recovery process.
We thought that this would be a good time to give you an update, to celebrate what has been accomplished and to remind each other of what is yet to be done.
Since the cyclone, there has been consistent progress in repairing the most damaged parts of the Hermitage Ashram - including the villages of Qaravi and Ciqomi and the Matrix. Most of the buildings that were damaged in the two villages have been restored and strengthened in preparation for the next cyclone season, which is now beginning. However, many buildings that were completely destroyed have yet to be replaced, and this will be a lengthy process.
Two of the most important new construction projects are a new school/safe-house for the Fijian staff and families and a new storage building for Divine Domain Sacred Articles. Both of these buildings will be built on higher ground and will greatly serve both the safety of human lives and the protection of irreplaceable Divine Domain Sacred Articles in the event of future cyclones. Almost all of the construction materials for both projects have now been delivered to Adi Da Samrajashram. Below is a photo of the huge barge that arrived in mid-December with over 500 tons of materials and equipment. Luckily there was a break in the weather which allowed our sole inter-island boat, the Turaga Dau Loloma (to the right in the photo), to tug the barge through our narrow reef opening.
We are now awaiting better weather and the repair of some key heavy equipment to begin the projects in earnest. After an extended period of drought, Naitauba received around 20 inches of rain in the last 10 days making the ground very soft. The progress on these important projects has been slower than expected, but we are hoping this will change as we head into the New Year. We are trying to prepare the school/safe-house site as soon as possible and hope that this will be completed in time to make use of the services of the construction crew from Canada who offered to construct the new building. They have a tight travel window during the Canadian winter.
As for the Sacred Temple sites and other structures in Qaravi and Ciqomi, we have been fortunate with the arrival of a local crew from Taveuni (bolstered by devotee service and financial support) who have made many improvements to the existing structures in the village to strengthen them against further damage. Roofs have been replaced, porches repaired, and buildings painted. A pristine quality is returning to Naitauba and is felt even more intensely, a sense of peace and the honoring of what this most Sacred Island is to the world.
Many devotees are still coming to Naitauba to serve the recovery process. Here is a testimonial from a recent arrival:
It has been 8 months since I was here on a service retreat to help serve Adi Da Samrajashram after the devastating cyclone Winston, and now I am back. The shock upon seeing the Island on my arrival in April was deep - it was surreal to see Homecoming Wharf tilted on its side, the end section of the wharf broken off into the sea, the wharf buildings completely devastated - roofless and filled with debris. I remember walking down the Arrow seeing so many trees uprooted and snapped in the middle, piles of brush everywhere, and then into the village with demolished buildings, roofs off, twisted metal structures blown up in the trees and all around, Extraordinary Eyes Temple a pile of rubble, and on and on. It was surreal. Going to the Matrix was the greatest shock of all: no gate, piles of debris, broken glass, everything broken, stacked mounds, huge piles of dirt and mud mixed with Sacred Articles – an extraordinary mass of chaos and destruction. Even at that time, though, through all the devastation, our Master’s Presence was never absent. I was so grateful to be able serve His Divine Form here. Now, eight months later, it is truly remarkable to see the clean-up, repair and amount of restoration in all the domains of Adi Da Samrajashram. The service of the residents of Naitauba and the participation of retreatants and visitors with crucial skills from all over the world has completely changed the feeling of devastation to one of restoration, repair, and renewal. I cannot say enough about how much has changed since April – being on the Island only a week I haven't taken it all in yet. All praise to Bhagavan Adi Da and His devoted servants for the work that has been done.
These kinds of testimonials are typical of all the people who have come to serve in the last 10 months. That being said, there is still so much to do, and so much more help needed ongoing. But as every journey starts with a single step, we are simply looking forward to manageable chunks of what can be done. In hindsight, what has been achieved is nothing short of phenomenal. Long may this continue!