Adventist Church mobilises to help cyclone-impacted communities

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Packing in progress: Fiji Mission CFO Api Seru, youth director Pastor Joe Rabuatoka and Hope Books manager Mark Albert. (Photo credit: Fiji Mission, Facebook)

The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Fiji has partnered with the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) to organise 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-five storm, which made landfall on Thursday (December 17). Some 7700 people remain in evacuation centres.

Seaqaqa Adventist Church was significantly damaged by the cyclone. (Photo credit: Aisea Vasuturaga, Facebook)

Fiji Mission president Pastor Nasoni Lutunaliwa visited Bua Province yesterday to assess the damage and provide assurance and support to church members. Bua Province 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 mobilised by our ministers and members in the north.”

Pastor Lutunaliwa later visited members in Macuata Province. “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.”

Fiji Mission president Pastor Nasoni Lutunaliwa (centre) visiting cyclone-affected communities. (Photo credit: Nasoni Lutunaliwa, Facebook)

ADRA is awaiting the outcome of initial damage assessments underway in Vanua Levu and other affected communities. An ADRA officer 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 centre has been operational,” the ADRA situation report said. “Planning, packing and acquisition of stocks were made throughout the weekend.

“ADRA Fiji will start mobilising 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.”

The total estimated damage to crops, livestock and infrastructure from the cyclone is between $FJ108.9m and $FJ128.3m.

Widespread damage in Macuata Province. (Photo credit: Nasoni Lutunaliwa, Facebook)