I was in Fiji for the last two weeks in June doing relief work among some of the victims of Typhoon Winston,
the strongest storm ever to hit land in the South Pacific. Winston had sustained winds of 186 mph with gusts up
to 230 mph. It was 200 miles across. Tidal surges reached up to 60’ with minimum surges of 10’. Almost all
inhabited islands of the nation were affected in some way, especially the three largest islands—Viti Levu,
Vanua Levu and Taveuni.
Folks on most islands lost virtually all of their staple food crops and many of their small livestock. All root crops were destroyed in most areas hit by the storm. Root crops take from 9 months to a year to grow to edible size. The problem is there are very few cuttings for farmers to plant. I was able to buy seed for a church men’s group. They will plant them in their 100 acre plot to grow food for consumption and sale. If all
goes well, they can begin harvest in about 3 months. Fruit trees like papayas, mangoes, bananas, guavas, noni and
coconuts were destroyed or severely damaged. There are tens of thousands of coconut trees that have no nuts. This affects the production of copra, coconut oil and milk, and the sale of raw coconuts, causing great financial loss to thousands of families. Many trees will never produce again. It will take from one to two years to see how many come back into production.
I saw no tropical fruits of any kind in any home, market or road side stall during my entire time on the three
islands I visited. The main farmers market in the capitol city of Suva which normally has hundreds of people
selling various items, had no tropical fruits of any kind on display. Incomes are significantly reduced by this
shortage and dietary needs are not met.
I focused our resources helping members of 5 small isolated rural churches on Vanua Levu and Taveuni Islands
that had been overlooked by prior aid efforts. We were able to provide significant food relief to 37 families,
consisting of about 475 individuals. I provided 63 water purification filter systems to these families so they can
have clean drinking water. In some areas typhoid has become a problem. Dirty water kills more infants and
children around the world than any other factor, including malaria.
TUtP also assisted fishermen on the small island of Kiou just off Vanua Levu. Provision of fishing gear helps the
400 people who live there. Fishing is their main source of food and funds, though they do some farming as
Kiou Island has a severe potable water shortage. Their main spring, source of all water for the village has dried
up. They open their water taps for ½ hour every morning. That’s all the supply of fresh water available for all
needs during the remainder of the day.
There is a spring on the opposite side of the island away from the village that has an abundant, constant supply
of fresh water. I am now trying to raise money to provide pipes that can connect that spring to the main village
distribution tank. The villagers will soon provide me details regarding the distance from the spring to the tank
so we know how much pipe to purchase. We also must know the height of the hill the water must traverse so
we know what kind of pump we need to buy. Villagers can do all the work required to set up the system. Once
the pipe is in place and the water begins to flow, gravity will siphon water continuously, so the pump only
needs to be available to fill the pipes again should they ever break.
Thanks to all of you who provided the funds necessary for this project. Thanks for all of you who prayed that
we would be able to reach these folks with this help. They thank you for what you have done for them.