Fiji Time: 1:15 PM on Thursday 29 January

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Family fights on

Repeka Nasiko
Wednesday, January 30, 2013

THE year 2012 should have gone down as the worst for a family in Nadi.

The family were victims of the three major natural disasters that struck last year and their home was destroyed on all three occasions.

Matriarch Sofia Di, however, did not let the struggles that followed dampen her spirit.

Nor did she let it affect her two-year-old daughter's childhood.

She remembers how they spent almost three months sleeping on a cold floor while they recovered from the January and March floods.

"We lost everything," Ms Di said.

"We were still trying to recover from the first flood when the second one hit and we could not save anything," she said.

After a few months of struggle, Ms Di threw herself into a United Nations Development Program-funded Cash for Work project where she managed to earn $200.

"I sewed eco-friendly bags and also helped out in our vegetable farm which a group of women were running," she said.

"Money earned from the sale of the bags and vegetables was put aside to start a small business."

She also got more awareness on avenues she could use to get back on her feet after the disasters.

"It was also through UNDP that I came to know about Empower Pacific and their IGP program," she said.

But before Ms Di could expand her business, Tropical Cyclone Evan struck her small community, destroying parts of her home.

She said after seeing the state of her home after TC Evan, she was convinced she needed to expand her business to assist her family with repair works.

"From a $500 loan I took from Empower Pacific, I bought more groceries to sell in my canteen," she said.

"I began selling small stuff like sweets and canned fish but now I am also selling chicken, rice, flour, sugar — all basic groceries.

"With the savings I make, I am able to put it aside for my husband, who is a tile layer, to buy hardware so we can rebuild our home."

Ms Di is optimistic that plans to turn the canteen into a fully-fledged shopping centre can be achieved through commitment and perseverance.

Last year the Western Division was battered by two floods and a tropical cyclone.

So far people living in the west are still picking up the pieces of their lives and homes for a fresh start.

NGOs and civil society groups have come forward to assist the affected families and communities with starting anew.

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