What Winston left behind

Emergencies article written on the 20 Feb 2017

One year after Cyclone Winston — the worst cyclone in Fiji’s history — killed 44 people and destroyed more than 32,000 homes, the beautiful island nation is bouncing back.

Thank you for answering our urgent call for help. Here is how your support helped thousands of survivors recover and rebuild their lives. Here is how your incredible support has given people hope for the future.

Photo: TC Winston_Ilisoni

Ilisoni Bulikiobo in Nasolo village, Fiji.
Photo: Alicja Grocz/OxfamAUS

Ilisoni recounts the night the cyclone struck: “I was thinking if something happened there, all of us would die… especially me, because I can’t walk properly. I was frightened”.

Once a promising rugby sevens player, Ilisoni suffered a stroke in his early twenties that left him confined to a wheelchair. His home was flattened by Cyclone Winston, and he spent months living in the community hall before village members could finish their own rebuilding and construct a new dwelling for him.

You and Oxfam built a wheelchair-accessible toilet for Ilisoni right near his new house.

Photo: TC Winston_Lavinia

Lavinia Muriceva and her great-nephew, Nadavo.
Photo: Alicja Grocz/OxfamAUS

You helped give Lavinia (pictured above) a new toilet and washroom.

“Oxfam provided me with cement, the toilet seat and the stand, and everything to cater for what’s inside the toilet,” she says. “I usually went from house to house and asked if I could use their loo… I was really embarrased.”

Before Oxfam’s support, she had to walk to the river to wash and bathe, and go house to house to use a toilet. The long trek down to the river was getting more difficult and time-consuming for Lavinia with age – half a day could be spent just to get down there and perform daily washing duties. Now the eight members of her household benefit from their own toilet and washroom at home.

Photo: TC Winston_Lavinia

Esita Lewaivalu in Nisiriti, Fiji.
Photo: Alicja Grocz/OxfamAUS

Esita and her family are rebuilding their home with tools provided by Oxfam.

“We received a crowbar, nails, and a handsaw from Oxfam, as well as a chainsaw for the vaillage,” she says.

“The chainsaw was a great help because the timber for our houses was made from fallen trees. We rebuilt our houses with the chainsaw that was given from Oxfam. So that’s why we would like to thank you for the help.”

Photo: TC Winston_Lavinia

Peceli Domoni and his daughter Sailisia in Nayavutoka village, Fiji.
Photo: Alicja Grocz/OxfamAUS

Peceli (pictured above) is a fisherman. The sea is the sole source of income for him and his family. He sells the day’s catch with his brother at a nearby market, but worsening weather conditions mean a good catch isn’t as reliable as it once was.

“I really need to thank Oxfam for their help and support towards the community of Nayavutoka for providing us with taps, buckets and all the other items that were given to us.”

Photo: TC Winston_Lavinia

Vani Domoni in Nayavutoka village, Fiji.
Photo: Alicja Grocz/OxfamAUS

Peceli’s wife, Vani fills up her Oxfam bucket with clean water that you helped give their village. “I’m really thankful to Oxfam for all the developments you’ve made in this vaillage,” she says.

“My house is very far from the tap, so I’m using this bucket very often. It’s very helpful to me.”

Oxfam also installed tap stands, tanks and repaired water systems in Vani and Peceli’s village, so their family no longer has to go down to the river to wash up and bathe. They are waiting to hear if they will be relocated further inland due to the vulnerable location of their home, which they had to rebuild with salvaged materials after Tropical Cyclone Winston.

Photo: TC Winston_Lavinia

Iliavi Waqa in Nayavutoka village, Fiji.
Photo: Alicja Grocz/OxfamAUS

Iliavia is the village headman and a leader in his community’s fight against climate change.

Asked to relocate to higher ground by authorities, he argues the steep terrain of the new location is far too difficult for elderly or disabled people to access.

Iliavia and others in the village have been advocating for more support to combat the effects of climate change, including upgrading the sea wall he and his forefathers built to meet rising sea levels, which would help protect the land where he has lived his entire life.

His house was completely destroyed during Cyclone Winston and he now lives at the local canteen with his wife and grandson. Your support helped Oxfam build a toilet and a tap nearby.

“We really appreciate you,” he says. “A very big vinaka vaka levu – thank you for your donation.”

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