On the winding road up to Nadarivatu, our gateway to the interior, there’s a rock. The rock sits next to a stream that spills over the road when it rains, and has a large smooth face. Amidst the tangle of debris brought down the stream-that-became-a-torrent someone had written, ‘Winston was here!!’
Ten months on, as 2016 comes to an end, and a new cyclone season has begun, the graffiti is fading. Sadly, the impact of Cyclone Winston, one of the strongest tropical cyclones to make landfall anywhere on earth since records began in 1970, will last much longer.
Recovery, both emotional and physical, takes time.
All the villages that we partner with were affected, with houses lost and crops badly damaged. But, it was Nabalesere in Ra that suffered most with the eye of the cyclone passing directly overhead.
In the immediate aftermath of Winston, the Suva Rucksack Club mobilised its members and we provided help to get emergency supplies of food and medicine out, coordinating as best we could with the authorities. We also asked former guests and friends and supporters of Talanoa Treks and our partner communities for financial help.
Between the Rucksack Club and Talanoa Treks, around F$ 7,000 was raised and spent on immediate needs in Nabalesere, Wailotua, Navai, Naga and Nubutautau. A further F$ 21,000 was raised through the support of the Market Development Facility and through our JustGiving appeal.
After discussions with Nabalesere about how we could best support their recovery, approximately F$ 15,000 was spent on materials to rebuild their community hall, and build it back stronger. This ensured a dry space while homes are rebuilt, and (we very much hope) a safer shelter in the future.
Donations were also spent on a variety of other needs including fuel for generators, chainsaws, and kerosene lamps, on solar lights, on seeds, on building materials for the other communities, and many other items, including (as stipulated by one person) fun items, including balls, games, and guitar strings!
We also made cash donations to the school in Nadarivatu via a Peace Corps volunteer and the Nailuva District School, near to Nabalesere.
As the new year approaches, crops are flourishing (bananas are back!), Nabalesere’s rebuilt community hall is still looking new, and people’s homes and schools are slowly being repaired and rebuilt.
The communities of Nabalesere, Wailotua, Navai, Naga, and Nubutautau and the Talanoa Treks family would like to send our lolomas and say a big vinaka vakalevu to everyone who help make 2016 better, brighter and more hopeful than it might otherwise have been.
If you generously donated and would like more information about how your money was spent, please contact [email protected].