We never expected life to take such a turnaround

28 Apr 2016   |   Blog   |   Project Compassion   |   Fiji   |   Emergency Relief

Tags:  natural disaster, cyclone, Cyclone Winston   |   No comments

Eric and Ma at a school visit

“We never expected life to take such a turnaround… anyway we have to move on and make our priorities right. We would love to share our story to the wonderful people we met last year, as they have also helped us through Tutu in establishing our farm and our family.”

Last year during Project Compassion, we were privileged to have Eric and Ma from Fiji visit to share their story of life in Fiji, and how the Tutu Rural Training program has helped them.

No-one would have known that one year later, Tropical Cyclone Winston, one of the biggest cyclones to ever hit the Southern hemisphere would devastate communities across Fiji, including Eric and Ma’s. In the aftermath of the cyclone, we contacted Eric and Ma to see how they were affected by this latest disaster. Here, they share their heartbreaking experience with us:

“We experienced something that we never met before, it was like the world had come to an end, we were frightened and worried about our lives, winds were smashing the house with heavy rain, and there was little time to prepare as everything just happened so suddenly. We just clung to dear life, hoping and praying.

A family of five with three small kids came knocking at our door seeking shelter, as their house had blown away.

Destruction from Cyclone Winston



Destruction from Cyclone Winston

We could see part of our roof blowing away as more rain came in. The fallen trees and roof tops from houses in our compound fell on our house and did more damage to our roof.

It was five hours of a terrible, terrible experience – one that will continue to haunt us forever.

It was not only our house but all our crops that we planted – taro, kava and vegetables – which were all blown away or washed away. There is nothing left except the young kava plants which are rotting away. Our poultry farm, with our chickens and ducks, has was also blown away; just a handful of ducks were saved. Luckily our goats managed to survive.

Our dream was washed away as we stood watching, helpless and not able to do anything.

Currently we are trying to patch up and do repairs to our house as it continues to get wet whenever it rains. Work on the farm is going very slowly as we are trying to remove the trees and branches that covered the ground.

Recovery is very important now, and we are also planting whatever seeds that we saved, as our nursery was also blown away.

We never expected life to take such a turnaround… anyway we have to move on and make our priorities right. We would love to share our story to the wonderful people we met last year, for they have also helped us through Tutu in establishing our farm and our family.

It is indeed a new beginning for us, like most people who went through this experience. We are on the run again, as we thought that we were on the verge of retirement, but Winston had other plans. We are hopeful that we will rise again and move on.”

Before, during and after – Caritas’ support of the Tutu Rural Training Centre

Caritas has been a long-term partner of the Tutu Rural Training Centre in Fiji, supporting training programs that prepare community members for rural self-employment. As part of this, farmers are trained in agricultural practices that aim to reduce the impact of natural disasters. Read more about the program »

In response to Tropical Cyclone Winston, Caritas has continued to help the communities of the Tutu Rural Training Centre by providing food parcels, and replanting destroyed crops to ensure food security and restore income sources. Read more about Caritas’ response to Tropical Cyclone Winston »

How you can help

Project Compassion is our annual fundraising and awareness-raising appeal that supports our work with communities around the world. Your donation to Project Compassion goes towards long-term community development programs, such as agricultural training for farmers at the Fiji Tutu Rural Training Centre, as well as supporting responses to humanitarian emergencies such as Tropical Cyclone Winston. Your support of Project Compassion also goes towards helping communities after natural disasters as they work to reduce the impact of future disasters.

Donate to Project Compassion »


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