A FIJI Times team revisited families in Ba and Lautoka yesterday whose stories of survival, destruction and uncertainty featured prominently in this newspaper last week.
Many of them have been left homeless including their young children whose stories inspired a nationwide appeal for gifts that would bring a semblance of joy to their lives this Christmas.
As the team visited some evacuation centres in Ba and Lautoka, it was evident that the families had a far longer journey to recovery as their homes were still yet to be rebuilt. An evacuee at Tavarau Primary School, Kalesi Kuruvakua could not contain her happiness as her children were presented with the gifts.
Mrs Kuruvakua said many of the children had nothing left including little things as toys.
"We are not really thinking about Christmas presents right now because our home is the first priority right now but I'm really happy that despite all that is happening our children can at least have something to be happy about," she said.
Another resident at Tavarau, Gyan Mati, said her three-year-old and four-year old grandchildren had most of their toys destroyed during Cyclone Evan.
"We are trying to slowly rebuild everything and right now presents for our kids is the last thing on our mind," said Ms Mati.
Ms Mati thanked those behind the gift drive — Fiji Times Ltd and its partners, Williams and Gosling, Save the Children Fiji and the Rotary Club of Lautoka for their appeal and also to the kind-hearted people who were thinking about her grandkids this Christmas.
The gift drive has been extended into the New Year with the focus also now on school supplies for children who were affected by Cyclone Evan. Those wishing to be part of the drive can drop off their gifts at the Save the Children Fund office at 25 Pender St, Suva and Fiji Times Ltd offices at 177 Victoria Parade Suva and Tukani St in Lautoka.