Day 2 Fiji Thursday, June 16, 2016

Today we began our relief efforts by purchasing and delivering food to two church groups in two remote village areas. Aisake had arranged in advance with the pastors of these congregations that we would be providing food for members of their congregations. Both of these churches have about 50 in attendance from about 7 families each. All the members are subsistence farmers who lost all of their crops during Typhoon Winston. Because they are in such difficult to reach locations, they were overlooked by such aid as has been provided by the government.

These folk mainly depend upon two root crops, dalo and cassava as their primary dietary staples. Those crops take from 9 months to a year to reach edible size. However when the crops are destroyed as thoroughly as they were, farmers need to get new tubers or slips to begin to grow for a new harvest. Presently they cannot obtain the new starts as all crops were destroyed and no one has anything to replant from. This will be an issue for months to come. In some cases, the roots of the old plants will begin to sprout by themselves and ultimately produce new plants that will mature over time.

We can provide rice, flour, sugar and canned fish. But this will only sustain them for a brief period. They still face long-term hunger issues. It is also not advisable to provide too much food at one time for various reasons. So we will look into trying to set up some sort of reserve food base in a location that can serve the needs of these families over a longer time period until they can get back onto their feet and begin to harvest their own crops again. They have planted some other vegetables. Those that have sweet potatoes have planted those and can get a crop in four months or so. But most don’t have access to any kind of potato.

It is sad to drive by thousands of coconut trees that have lost all their nuts. Coconuts provide oil, milk, copra and dried coconut meat. I am told it will take over two years for the trees to begin to produce again, and many will simply rot and die instead. It is interesting to see that not all trees lost their fruit. There will be a long stretch of trees that have been mostly destroyed and then there will be trees that look just fine. However the destroyed trees far outnumber the good ones. I recall seeing a similar pattern of destruction after tornadoes where I used to live in the Midwest. Blocks of homes were destroyed and then there would be a few homes that were not touched at all.

Tomorrow morning Aisake and I will take a bus to the end of this island and catch a boat over to Taveuni Island to provide relief to some of the congregations that we have a past relationship with over the years. We’ll spend the night there and return to Vanua Levu on Saturday morning. As we head over, we will meet with a group of fishermen and distribute some of our fishing lures and gear.

Appreciate your ongoing prayers. Thanks and Blessings!