Rebuilding a Stronger Community: Cyclones Won’t Wait

At the Loloma Foundation, we speak often of the power of community and never has it been more evident than during this past month as we maneuvered to quickly meet the needs of our Fijian community who had been so compromised by Cyclone Winston.Rebuild a Stronger CommunityDonate to Fiji Relief

Immediately, Julie and Robin Kelly of Nakia compiled a thorough assessment of the needs of over 2200 people in South Taveuni and Lavena. The back side of Qamea was assessed by Christene Douglas of Matangi Resort.

Farms had been destroyed so food security was the first challenge. The power of social media enabled us to tap all of our networks and our communities throughout the world heard the call and responded by providing joint donations in excess of $100,000.00.

The Loloma Foundation dispatched a team of medical and construction volunteers who spent two weeks on the ground helping the Kelly’s distribute food. Alexx Edwards of the Nai’a enabled one of the first shipments by providing the transport of a boatload of food from Suva to S. Taveuni as initially, there was no food available to buy on the island. Initially, we set a goal to feed all 2200 people for two months and we have achieved that goal, thanks to your generosity!

Dr. Jeff Johnsrud brought emergency medical supplies and with nurse Anne Moreau, they made the rounds to tend to basic medical needs.

Peter Brown, Taveuni resident and Rotarian, immediately set out to assess what public buildings could be saved. Under his direction, our volunteers Matt Robertson and John Brody worked to repair as many buildings as possible. Peter continues to work each day in the villages.

Valishia Chapman organized things on the ground and with Steve Moreau, helped to distribute food with the Kelly’s.

The Loloma team moved to Matangi Island to assist with food distribution on the back side of Qamea and assess what could be done with the buildings. Building supplies purchased with donations were left in the capable hands of skilled village men so that they could begin restoring the integrity of the schools.

Robin and Julie continue to work daily in the S. Taveuni villages, supplying building materials to those who have the highest need.

The food crisis has been stabilized but there are still so many homes that need help. This week, we have received a very generous donation from BareBones, through Direct Relief International.  Twenty “safari-sized” tents will arrive and be distributed to the people who have the least hope of rebuilding soon, i.e. women with children and no husband. These tents will be constructed next week under the guidance of Erik Workman.

Loloma volunteers John Brody and Matt Robertson will return again in mid-May to again assist Peter with the rebuilding effort. We hope to raise enough funding for stronger components (strapping and proper nails). They will be working with villagers to help construct a stronger home that can withstand another cyclone.

 

We are grateful to all of you, our global community, who reached out and dug into your pockets to help our Fijian community. If you are able, we are hoping you will support the last phase of our effort by supporting our effort to REBUILD A STRONGER COMMUNITY. Every bit of the money will be used for essential construction materials that would be unaffordable to most Fijian families. Please help us help them recreate their community!

About Author: Bob Sykes

Bob Sykes is a founding board member, Treasurer, and Logistics Coordinator for the Loloma Foundation's medical and educational missions, and he also manages the Foundation’s website and public relations activities.