Tomorrow is the six-week anniversary of Cyclone Winston's direct hit on Naitauba Island. There has been a great amount of work done in that time to recover from the Cyclone, thanks to the tremendous support that we have received in the form of relief donations and volunteers going to the Island to help with clean-up and re-building. We are also very happy to report that some of the money that has been given has been sent to the Fiji government, in the form of a donation from Naitauba, to its own Winston Recovery Fund to help with the overall recovery efforts throughout the country.
Here is a summary of the recovery effort on Naitauba to date:
- Almost all of the roads have been cleared and some of the thousands of damaged trees have been pruned and cut back and treated by the professional arborists who have come to the Island. Green leaves are starting to appear everywhere now.
Tree surgeon at work
- The badly damaged Temple Complex called "The Matrix" has received a huge amount of attention and energy. The buildings that were invaded by the storm surges have been cleaned, debris removed, and restoration work has begun. Sacred Articles and Artifacts have been recovered, treated, and placed in safer locations. Sacred Articles from other Temples that were badly damaged in other parts of the Island have also been moved to safer locations. There is a tremendous amount of work that still needs to be done, including relocating some of the Temples to higher ground.
The temple complex The Matrix
- A great deal of work is in process to restore housing for all residents of the Island. New roofs have been placed on some buildings, many other roofs repaired, and tarps placed on some houses as an initial step. All residents are safe and secure as the work continues.
- The damaged utilities on the Island - water, power, telecom, and radio communications have been largely restored.
- After a very difficult process using professional salvagers, our 17 ton, 65 ft cargo and passenger boat is back on the carriage that takes it in and out of the water. In a short while the boat will be back in operation. That will be a big relief for the Island, to have its primary marine link to the outside world fully re-established. Being 40 miles from the nearest large island with an airport, ferry and freighter docking facilities with the main port in Viti Levu, it has been a real and sobering experience. We have been completely unable to get people and supplies to the island without using the extremely expensive seaplanes which are limited to just a few passengers and limited hand-carry cargo.
It took a herculean effort involving the Island Caterpiller front loader and backhoe, both operating at maximum capacity, to complete the work of lifting and finally placing the boat back on the slipway carriage. We are very grateful to the salvagers who came from the main island in Fiji - they did an remarkable job in completing a very difficult and unique task in righting this large vessel.
The Naitauba cargo and passenger boat
- The Holy Island of Naitauba has also been Spiritually served with senior devotees walking around all the areas that were affected by the Cyclone, Invoking Avatar Adi Da's Spiritual Blessing for each area, purifying and spiritually releasing all the negative effects of the storm using light and incense and water.
- This past Monday also marked yet another very significant step forward in the ongoing process of re-establishing all of the aspects of sacred life and Divine invocation at Naitauba. The Fire Ceremony, which has been continuous 24/7 for a number of years, was re-initiated at the outdoors Fire Site on a high hill overlooking the Island. This sacred fire had been maintained continuously for weeks in an enclosed Temple where it had been brought in the form of a candle lantern for safe-keeping just before Cyclone Winston struck the Island.
The Fire priest now received the flame and re-ignited the carefully prepared wood in the fire pit. It was a very powerful occasion, so potent with Avatar Adi Da's Transcendental Spiritual Presence fully felt, holding everyone firm in His Vast, Silent, Moveless Embrace. For all at the Island it was a great heart-relief to be re-initiating this most important responsibility of conducting this 24-hour Sacred Vigil of invocation and prayer for the sake of the peace and safety of the entire world. The timing of this event was noteworthy as it coincided with the worldwide Christian celebration of Easter and also followed closely upon the terrible happenings in Brussels, the latter being a significant focus of this week's prayer.
- There have also been several events where the devotee residents and Fijian staff and their families have come together to celebrate the work that has been done to recover, to thank Adi Da for His Blessing, and to express gratitude and joy even in the midst of so much destruction. These have been special occasions of celebrating a fundamental Calling that Avatar Adi Da made, to epitomize cooperation and tolerance and mutual love and respect between our different cultures and different religions.
Of course all of the above represents just the initial time of restoring Naitauba to its pristine glory. A great deal more must be done to simply repair what has been damaged.
And now we are also actively considering how to migrate all our Sacred, practical and living circumstances to higher ground over the coming years, facing, as we do, the probability of more such storms in the future, and higher sea levels due to climate change.
On Tuesday this week it poured rain all day at Adi Da Samrashram, and while the tanks are only 16 inches full, this marked a very, very welcome respite for the almost empty drinking water tanks. Thank you all for your continued prayers in this regard.
Buren Tarawa, the man injured in the Turaga salvage operation, continues to recover at Suva Private Hospital. He and his family have received great support from around the world and are most grateful for the help.