Cyclone Winston News Updates

Naitauba Update, May 2018

The village of Ciqomi on Naitauba Island in Fiji houses about 28 employee families. Most of the families have children in kindergarten or primary school. During tropical cyclone Winston in February 2016, the kindergarten lost its roof and the primary school suffered serious damage to its roof and lost its veranda.

After the cyclone, a new school was designed to withstand category 5 cyclones. The reinforced all-concrete buildings also serve as safe shelter during future cyclones for the entire staff and families of Ciqomi village.

Clearing of the land began in December 2016. Local workers and Canadian volunteers laid the foundations and floor in early 2017. The new buildings are three times larger than the old school, with four classrooms, a library, an office for teachers, and a water tank. The opening ceremony in May 2018 included a ribbon-cutting, sacred Blessing of the buildings, tours, mekes, and a lovo feast for everyone from both villages Qaravi and as well as Ciqomi.

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.

While all aspects of the recovery efforts on the island proceed ahead, we will begin this update with some important news concerning the work on getting our large boat upright and back into service:

On March 22nd, we received word of a very serious accident that had just occurred on Naitauba. A man named Buren Tarawa was severely injured while working on the current project that is slowly lifting our large cargo and passenger boat back upright after it was blown over from the on-shore slipway where it was undergoing repairs during the recent cyclone..

We begin this update with some words on the resumption of sacred activity at Naitauba, which is fundamental to its unique Spiritual nature:
Savaging the passenger and cargo boat

The long process of restoring Naitauba after the great cyclone is in full swing. The painstaking process of cleaning and restoring the Sacred Articles that were damaged in the storm is ongoing, as is the process of repairing the buildings. Slowly but surely power, running water and telecom services are being extended to even the remote parts of the Island, like Lion's Lap.

It is hard to believe that 3 weeks has passed since the worst cyclone in the history of the South Pacific passed directly over Naitauba. So much destruction and so much work done since that terrifying ordeal to restore what was destroyed. It has been an extraordinary three weeks. 

We hear from our friends at Naitauba that there is much heartbreak in the face of the incredible devastation that surrounds them each day. So much was destroyed. So many of the beautiful environments suffered dreadful destruction. Our friends need our continuing heart- prayers and support in the face of these realities each day. They need this even more now that the initial days after the storm have passed, and now it is a long and hard slog to full recovery.

Friends in Ciqome village sitting next to the pile of rubble that was their house.

Naitauba Island is still very much in recovery mode, with our main boats a few weeks away from being able to be put back in service, and our internet still out. The good news is that our phone service was restored this morning so voice communications do not have to rely on the satellite phone any longer.