posted May 24th 2017
reprint of a recent news article from the Good News Blog, featuring our work in Fiji in late 2016….
April 24, 2017
Posted by gnb team
By Peter and Susan, Fiji
During the last months of 2016, we made trips to three of Fiji’s most cyclone-damaged islands, Koro, Vanua Balavu, and Taveuni, in order to donate books to all their schools.
In March 2016, more than 40 people died when Cyclone Winston, the most powerful storm to make landfall in the southern hemisphere, smashed their schools, houses, churches, roads, and crops. A huge tidal surge, up to four meters high, compounded the losses for many villagers. (See before-and-after photos here.)
As is the case with any such project, the actual giving of 72 boxes of books was the tip of the iceberg; the story actually began several months earlier when we asked the Ministry of Education of Fiji for a list of top-priority schools after the devastation brought about by Cyclone Winston. We also owe a debt of gratitude to friends in Australia who went around collecting the books on our behalf, and also to Chris Park in Melbourne who organized the sending of the boxes of books to Fiji.
The target community of the project was primarily the thousands of children whose schools had been severely damaged by the category-five cyclone. Every school we visited had lost its entire library of books, along with shelves and roofs.
The main difficulties to overcome were logistical ones. For example, we encountered problems in finding trucks available to transport the books, because there are very few vehicles on these islands and most of them are already reserved in advance or need repairs. We also needed a boat to visit two outer islands, Avea and Cikobia, but there weren’t any available on the day we preferred, and then on the following days boats were available but the sea was too rough to go anywhere. But the Lord provided a solution. We left boxes of books for two schools with the closest available school and they will transport them on the next available boat.
The goals of the project were reached, and in addition it resulted in some very positive news articles in Fiji’s main newspapers, as well as on Fiji One TV news.
Donating to these village schools also provided a big psychological boost to the whole community, giving them the sense that they’re slowly returning to their normal lives again. We received many messages of thanks along these lines.