Cyclone Evan hit Fiji on December 17thdamaging houses and crops in the communities GVI has been working in for the past 18 months. As a result, during the first couple weeks of the project the volunteers been assessing the needs of the nine villages. Although there is serious structural damage in some villages, the community members interviewed stressed that food security was the number one problem. Cyclone Evan destroyed the majority of the crops that people in the village depend on for food and income. While the government had done preliminary assessments immediately after the cyclone and given food rations to the communities, that food is now running seriously low. As a result, GVI used funds raised through the Charitable Trust to buy rice, flour, lentils and sugar to distribute among the communities that were worst affected by the cyclone.
Naisisili and Vuaki villages were among the worst hit by the cyclone and thus the first to receive support. GVI worked with the Turaga ni koro, the village head man, to divide food rations amongst the community members. The volunteers spoke to every family in Naisisili and Vuaki, asking for the number of children and adults in the family, if any family members worked and if they needed assistance with food provisions. Under the Turaga ni koro’s direction, each house in the village gathered to collect their rations. Naisisili has 64 houses, while Vuaki has 54. Each household received 4kg of flour, 2kg of rice, 1 kg of lentils and 500g of sugar. Any left over rations were given to the biggest families and to the elderly who had no family to help support them.
The next village to receive food rations was Navotua village. Navotua is a small community of only twenty families and is one of the furthest north villages that GVI works with. Due to the limited access to nearby resorts, few people have jobs and thus rely heavily on their crops for food.
A total of 1325kg was distributed to the families of Naisisili, Vuaki and Navotua, after which, GVI’s construction leader, Esava, explained to the communities that GVI’s assistance had been made possible by donations from past volunteers and others who wanted to lend their support. The communities said a big Vinaka Vaka Levu to GVI and also to those around the world who donated to assist their villages. GVI is planning to distribute food rations across another 4 villages and also help build vegetables gardens in all nine communities to provide longer term relief from the cyclone damage.