Gratitude has poured in from Rakiraki, Fiji as communities rebuild their lives after Cyclone Winston—thanks to goods donated by various groups within the Queensland Uniting Church. Journey reports.
It claimed the lives of 44 people and destroyed the family home of Fijian native and Brisbane Congress Congregation minister Rev Saimoni Davui, but those affected by Fiji’s strongest tropical storm on record have reached out to thank the church for aiding their long, arduous recovery.
“We thank you for your kindness and friendship towards us during our time of greatest need, struggle and hardship,” writes the Navutulevu Village leader.
“The cyclone has brought so many heartaches and pain to our families and villages. Your gifts will go a long way to comfort and rebuild our brokenness during this time of rehabilitation.
“We may not see each other face to face, but your love through your gifts has touched our hearts and brought a smile to our distressed children and people.”
After Cyclone Winston hit Fiji in full force on 20 February, members of the Uniting Church, Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress, people in Weipa, Pagimaucia Poipoi, people in Cairns and Bulu Davui, banded together to appeal for donated goods for families in Rakiraki—one of the most affected areas.
The transportation costs of the goods donated was then covered by North Queensland Presbytery, St George Uniting Church and Calvary Presbytery.
When the goods arrived in Fiji at the beginning of August, Rev Saimoni Davui’s wife, Duri Davui, flew across to work with local village leaders to coordinate the distribution of the goods which included unpacking and sorting.
On her return, Duri was given letters of appreciation to share with the wider church community.
“Please convey our thanks to the Uniting Church and all those families and individuals who offer gifts to our families and community,” says Soloveni Waqatabu of Naroko.
Etuate Navuase, leader of the Navuavua Village, reiterates, “Your presents and gifts have touched our lives and spirits. Please accept our gratitude from our clan leaders, chiefs and people”.
Nine months into recovery, Saimoni reports from a recent trip home that “people still live in tents” as government assistance has been slow moving. Regardless, village leaders are optimistic about their future, attributing their perseverance and togetherness to family values and faith in God.
“Our gifts have gone a long way in affirming to people that there are others who love and care for them,” says Saimoni.
“The spirit of caring-love showed through our donations has empowered them to rebuild their lives and communities. Friendship and comradery shared—even though we have not met each other—makes the Christian bond in action real and meaningful.”
Saimoni has plans to send Christmas gifts home to children living in his province and is hopeful the church will assist him in providing presents and covering the cost of freight. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to help.