Author: admin
• Monday, January 26th, 2009

Tommy, Milika, Analesi, Susan & Bai ready to distribute clothes to flood victims

Although the South Pacific generally enjoys a sunny climate & moderate temperatures, there is also the possibility of cyclones between November & April each year. Since most of the Pacific is made up of sea with very little land, the majority of cyclones are also out at sea & only bring about a few days of bad weather if they pass nearby. Once in a while though, there is a ‘direct hit’ & this can cause a lot of devastation; such was the case in January & December 2009, along with the very recent Cyclone Tomas in March 2010. This article concentrates on the Jan 09 cyclone.

many homes lost all their possessions due to flooding

Going back a bit, towards the end of 2008 we were interviewed on Fiji One—the main TV station that broadcasts the news in English, Hindi & Fijian each day. Since we had already made an appeal for children’s books in a similar interview the year before, we decided to use the occasion to appeal for clothes. We asked Fiji One to air our contact details on screen, but due to their internal rules & regulations, they couldn’t do this for some reason, & so the appeal was broadcast but there was no way for people to get hold of us!

This looked like a defeat, but we needn’t have worried because the Lord has different ways of answering prayer. A day or 2 later, we were in town & a couple came up to us, having recognised us on TV. To our great surprise they told us that they had a large second-hand clothing business that they were closing down & that they wanted to give everything to us! We were delighted & told them

villagers form a line to receive donated clothes

we’d bring a taxi to their place to pick up the bags of clothes.
‘No, you don’t understand’ they said. ‘This kind of quantity won’t fit into a taxi!’
We ended up going to their house & found that there were 16 huge industrial bales full of all kinds of clothes—most of them very good quality! We were just about able to squeeze it all into 2 station wagon taxis & take it back to fill up our living room.

A few days later, we were hitch hiking to the swimming pool & were picked up by someone who also recognised us from the TV news. He told us that he was the director of a big clothing company –Classic Apparel– & that he had wanted to contact us to give us clothes, but didn’t know how! What an amazing set up! Not only did he give a lot of clothes from his factory but he also encouraged all his workers to go through their homes & donate any

Peter handing out supplies as fast as he can!

spare clothing items. On top of that he gave a big donation of stationary, which is always useful. Fortunately, he was able to bring several vanloads of boxes to our home, so that made things easy. The only problem now was that we had an enormous quantity of clothes & absolutely no idea what to do with them!

Well, we didn’t need to worry about that either. It was now about 2 weeks after we had made the appeal & news was coming of a major cyclone on its way. It turned out to be one of the most destructive in years, as vast amounts of rain led to rivers overflowing their banks, thus causing massive flooding in many parts of the country. The main streets of several towns had 6 feet of water or more, while villages & settlements on low lying land were completely under water. Many thousands of families lost everything & became destitute.

working with the Hare Krishna youth group to donate food

We straightaway went to the Red Cross so see if we could work with them to distribute all the clothes, but all their vehicles were already in use. Fortunately, they were able to put us in touch with another organisation—the Hari Krishna Youth –who had vehicles & a food distribution project but no clothes! We put it all together & drove to the flood affected areas in the West of Fiji’s main island of Viti Levu. Just driving to the affected areas was shocking as bridges had been washed away & crops totally destroyed. The floods themselves had mostly abated but there was mud everywhere & huge piles of ruined household belongings—a scene of total devastation. We stopped the small convoy of vehicles in various villages & passed out food & clothes to the many flood victims. In some places we struggled to get everyone lined up in an orderly queue to avoid grabbing & general chaos. Luckily, we had organised the clothes as best we could into boxes for ‘men’, ‘women’, ‘children’ & ‘babies’ to streamline the distribution as much as possible.

Needless to say, people were really grateful that we could bring all these needed supplies & as for us, we were really glad to have made the clothes appeal & that the Lord worked everything out behind the scenes to make all the different pieces of the jigsaw puzzle fall into place!

see also our newsletter from the time of this cyclone: newsetter 31

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