December 25, 2020

In Fiji, Adventist Church Mobilizes to Help Cyclone-Impacted Communities

Tracey Bridcutt, Adventist Record

The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Fiji has partnered with the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) to organize hundreds of food baskets to assist communities devastated by Tropical Cyclone Yasa.

So far, 300 food baskets have been packed. The food was donated by individuals, families, youth, and church groups. People have also donated clothing and bedding.

According to the latest ADRA Fiji Situation Report, Cyclone Yasa caused significant destruction to infrastructure, buildings, and agriculture in Vanua Levu, Fiji’s second-largest island. Four people are confirmed dead, and one person remains missing as a result of the category 5 storm, which made landfall on December 17, 2020. Some 7,700 people remain in evacuation centers.

Nasoni Lutunaliwa, president of the Fiji Mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, visited the province of Bua to assess the damage and provide assurance and support to church members. Bua was one of the areas hit hardest by the cyclone.

“Thank God for the safety of our members,” he wrote in a Facebook post. “Miracles have been witnessed by our people. God never fails. Churches, halls, and family houses have been destroyed. Volunteers have been mobilized by our ministers and members in the north.”

Lutunaliwa later visited members in the province of Macuata. “The scene is so touching,”  he wrote. “Houses demolished, clothes strewn all over the place, plants uprooted and withering. Amazing to hear their stories of how God protects from the wrath of Cyclone Yasa.”

ADRA officials were awaiting the outcome of initial damage assessments underway in Vanua Levu and other affected communities. An ADRA official is part of the first response team in Vanua Levu, supporting the Fijian government with the assessment.

As part of the government’s first response, the immediate needs of shelter and food have been shipped to impacted islands in the northern division.

“Since the day after the cyclone, ADRA Fiji’s emergency operation center has been operational,” the ADRA situation report said. “We planned, packed, and acquired stocks throughout the weekend.

“ADRA Fiji will start mobilizing from next week for distribution in the north and in Koro.”

According to ADRA South Pacific regional director Greg Young, “The experience that ADRA Fiji has gained over the past years responding to disasters is showing its worth as they continue to provide exceptional support on the frontline to those affected by the tropical cyclone.

“Please keep the team and the people of Fiji in your prayers.”

According to some estimates, the total damage to crops, livestock, and infrastructure from the cyclone is between FJD$108 and $128 million (between US$53 and $62 million).

The original version of this story was posted by Adventist Record.