Every day is a ‘nightmare’

Apenisa Malai, 68, carries his grandson Joeli Tiko at Nasau Village on Koro. Picture: JONA KONATACI

Apenisa Malai, 68, carries his grandson Joeli Tiko at Nasau Village on Koro. Picture: JONA KONATACI

EVERY single day Apenisa Malai wishes Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston had not hit the island of Koro, precisely his village of Nasau.

While many have accepted and have moved on with their lives, the 64-year-old man is still picking up the pieces from the remains of the worst natural disaster to make landfall on the island.

“Sometimes we still fear for another cyclone that could be worse than Winston. We lost loved ones, we lost homes, we lost hope, but at the same time Winston also tested our faith in the Lord.

“You see this hill? Yes, we ran up that hill for safety when we saw the storm-surging waves,” he said while pointing up at Dokidoki Hill.

Standing by the beach where his house once stood, his grandson Joeli Tiko played in the rubble and remains of his concrete dwelling.

His granddaughter, six-year-old Inise Toganiyasawa, was one of the victims of the Category 5 monster cyclone that wreaked havoc on February 20, 2016.

“We often think of her and we believe she is in a happier place.

“Yet for me and my family we are still trying to get back on our feet. You see, our house has not been built and we are still waiting,” said the man who describes every day as a nightmare.

Two years on, Mr Malai and majority of the villagers in Nasau still live in tents and make-shift shelters.

When the Help for Homes initiative was initiated, the villagers agreed to the idea of having to build their houses together at once.

Through their Nasau/Suva community who are handling all negotiations, the Nasau villagers are hoping to have their houses built soon which is estimated at $30,000 each.

“We have given them (Nasau/Suva community) all our card details and they have told us they will handle all negotiations. But we are still here waiting and we don’t know when our house will be built,” said Mr Malai

“Rehabilitation works for other villages are way ahead while we at Nasau are very slow. I guess we just have to be patient and wait on them, while we wait on the decision they make,” said Mr Malai who had just completed drying their personal belongings after heavy rain had sipped into the make shift home the previous evening.

During heavy rain and strong winds, Mr Malai and other villagers are forced to live their homes and seek shelter in the church or sturdier homes.

“Most of us are still living in tents, still living in make shift houses waiting on the Nasau/Suva community to come forth and help us according to what they promised us. Probably they should come during the bad weather to stay in our houses.

“I wish they were here to see us. How we have to carry and assist the old to the church, simply because their homes have not been constructed,” added 54-year-old Ratu Sake Kaunisela a member of the Sauturaga clan.

Nasau Village headman Kilioni Tamani said through the facilitation of the Nasau community in Suva, the work would be done by engineers of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces. He said the RFMF engineers had already done a scope of work with construction expected to begin soon.