New School / Cyclone-Refuge Completed on Naitauba

Posted May 2018

New school / cyclone-refuge under construction at higher elevation at Ciqomi on Naitauba Island.
New school / cyclone-refuge under construction at higher elevation at Ciqomi on Naitauba Island.

The staff residential complex of Ciqomi on Naitauba Island houses about 30 employee families. Most of the families include children who attend the Naitauba kindergarten or primary school. During tropical Cyclone Winston in February 2016, the kindergarten lost its roof and the primary school suffered very serious damage to its roof and veranda.

After the cyclone, a spacious new school was designed to withstand category 5 cyclones, including life-threatening storms like Cyclone Winston. With walls of solid concrete block and steel reinforcing bar, the buildings are designed to provide safe shelter during future cyclones for the entire Naitauba staff and families. The project consists of two school buildings plus a water reservoir building, which is fed by catchment rainwater. The two school buildings are three times larger than the old school, with four classrooms, a library, and an office for teachers. Located up on the hill overlooking Ciqomi, the site is well protected from ocean swells and storm surges.

Clearing of the land began in December 2016.

Site preparation for the new school / cyclone-refuge on higher ground above Ciqomi.
Site preparation for the new school / cyclone-refuge on higher ground above Ciqomi.

Construction Begins—March, 2017

It is now over a year since Cyclone Winston brought enormous damage to many parts of Fiji. Here on Naitauba, a vast recovery effort has been accomplished by the Adidam world-wide community, Adidam residents and retreatants on Naitauba, local staff, and others from within Fiji who provided such generous support.

Due to the remoteness of Naitauba Island, construction of new buildings is always challenging. The nearest primary source of materials is Suva on the island of Viti Levu, more than one hundred miles across the open ocean from Naitauba. When ships deliver building materials and equipment at Naitauba, it must often be first offloaded to punts outside the reef and brought to shore from there.

Recently a huge barge, aptly named Colossus, arrived at Naitauba. It was towed from Suva for 100 miles across the open ocean by an ocean-going tugboat. This barge was loaded with construction materials and equipment for the cyclone recovery effort, including the new school / cyclone-refuge.

The barge was moored at Naitauba for two full days while members of the Naitauba marine, roads, grounds, and farm crews worked day and night to offload materials.

The Colossus barge arrives at Naitauba with supplies and construction materials.

In recent months, a great deal of effort was spent repairing the heavy-duty loader and back-hoe, both of which suffered cyclone damage. With these machines operating again, as well as the Naitauba Caterpillar D4 bulldozer, the construction crew from Taveuni Island began clearing the building site and laying foundations for the school / cyclone-refuge. Trees were cleared, land was leveled, foundations and drainage ditches were dug, and floor slabs and footings were laid in place. Meanwhile, carpenters in the joinery shop were busy making window and door frames for the new structures.

Due to delays because of heavy rain, a last-minute push was needed to complete preparation of the building site and foundations in time for the arrival of a volunteer construction crew from Canada led by an Adidam devotee and her husband. Fortunately, two Adidam devotees living on Taveuni Island came to Naitauba a few weeks ago to assist. Despite the rain, the building site and foundation were completed in time. The concrete slab for the third building was poured the same afternoon the Canadian crew arrived.

The mechanical shop has been a hive of activity with heavy machinery in need of maintenance and repairs. Due to the long lead time for ordering parts, our mechanical shop manager had pre-ordered many replacement parts, so the equipment could avoid lengthy down time waiting for parts.

Laying rebar for the concrete floor.
Laying rebar for the concrete floor.
The local and Canadian construction crews working on the reinforced walls.
The local and Canadian construction crews working on the reinforced walls.

Construction Complete—May 2018

Great progress has been made in restoring Naitauba from the devastation caused by Cyclone Winston over two years ago. Many thanks to the outpouring of support from Adidam devotees and many others around the world, as well as the onsite efforts of professional crews and volunteers.

It is wonderful to see that the pristine grandeur and beauty of the island itself has come back, with its magnificent vegetation mostly restored. There is a pervasive sense of the sacred nature of this island and how unique it is in the world.

The new school / cyclone refuge is complete.
The new school / cyclone-refuge is complete.

The new school / cyclone-refuge was finally completed in May 2018. The opening ceremony of the new school included a ribbon-cutting, sacred Blessing of the buildings, tours, mekes, and a lovo feast for both staff and Adidam residents.

The residents and staff at Naitauba are rightly proud of the new building. It is the largest complex ever built on Naitauba and is unique for the remote outer islands of this part of Fiji.

Many thanks again to the indefatigable local construction crew from Taveuni Island and to the Canadian masonry crew. The Canadians travelled all the way to Naitauba during the hottest time of the year and erected all of the building walls in under two weeks.

May 2018 – opening ceremony.

View video of new school / cyclone-refuge opening here: