Posted December 11th
After Koro, Vanua Balavu was the second most severely damaged outer island after Cyclone Winston. It’s part of the Lau group & is serviced by a weekly ferry, plus it has a grass airstrip, like Koro, with weekly flights.
A big ‘thank you’ to George Goundar, of Goundar Shipping that donated transport of the 21 boxes of books on the Lomaiviti Princess ferry. This time, we took the Fiji Airways small propeller plane & waited for the shipment of books to arrive 2 days later.
Giving the boxes of books to the 8 village schools was an unforgettable experience: children that have gone through such a lot, in badly-damaged schools that are still in the middle of reconstruction, yet remain so cheerful & thankful for any help that comes their way.
The logistics of going to the different corners of Vanua Balavu was challenging, but head teachers were very helpful in arranging boats, trucks & wheelbarrows. We even carried out one day’s school distributions in the island’s only police car!
Getting back to Suva was also an adventure as planes can only operate when the grass airstrip is dry…..& on the day of our departure, there was light rain! We went to the tiny airport & checked in, but were then notified 2 hours later that the plane had been cancelled & to wait for the next one in 1 or 2 weeks!! Luckily, after lots of phone calls, another plane came to the rescue after 3 days & we made it safely back home to Suva!
To finish off with, here’s a 2-minute news clip from the Fiji One TV news that gives a summary of our trips to both Koro & Vanua Balavu: