On Thursday, 17th December 2020, the island nation of Fiji was battered by a category 5 Tropical Cyclone Yasa. The cyclone left a destructive path through Vanua Levu, the second largest island of Fiji where the Australian Sai Medical Unit has been visiting for several years. The cyclone left a destructive path especially in the areas of Bua, Lekutu, Dreketi, Nabouwalu, Nasarowaqa, Seaqaqa and some parts of Labasa.
A team of volunteers from SSSIO Fiji were immediately deployed to these affected areas to help the affected locals and to assess the extent of damage. Advice from SSSIO Fiji is that there were several families that have been badly affected. 60-75% of their living structures were badly damaged in those areas. Farmers have almost lost all their crops. Most of the Livestock and animals also died, though some survived. Flooding were recorded in low lying areas and household items completely damaged due to this. Sugar cane fields were also damaged extensively due to flooding. Schools in Lekutu, Nasarowaqa, Dreketi, Seaqaqa and Daku suffered most damages and requires either rebuilding or maintenance. Children and elderly were traumatised by the firsthand experience of a Category 5 cyclone. Most areas were hit by strong winds for up to eight continuous hours.
First hand food ration packs were served to affected households in two phases by SSSIO Fiji volunteers. Phase 1 ration packs included immediate relief of ready to eat food items, matches & soap were distributed to 200 families across the affected areas. This was followed by Phase 2 ration packs which included groceries for cooking, matches & soap to last for few weeks were distributed to approximately 70 families.
Given the border closures and lack of regular flights due to the Covid pandemic, SSSIO Fiji advised the best assistance we in Australia could provide at this stage is the monetary donations for purchase of supplies locally in Fiji. Members who wished to participate in this service activity could send their voluntary donation to the designated bank accounts.
The monetary funds collected will be transferred to SSSIO Fiji which in turn will be used towards supporting the students in the Tropical Cyclone Yasa affected areas. Around 6000 students will be assisted through Ministry of Education Fiji with the help of other private sector organisations and SSSIO Fiji being one of them. Support like school stationeries and bags are just one of the items mentioned and more similar supports will follow.
To date, our Australia voluntary contributions have reached approximately $23,000. Most of the funds have been transferred to Fiji to support the ongoing projects out there. We would like to thank everyone who has contributed so far. This voluntary contribution will remain open until 31 January 2021. Subsequently the remaining funds will be transferred to SSSIO Fiji and dispersed as per the needs identified.