PENI KURO is perhaps the oldest person on Kia Island but he certainly has not forgotten those days of drinking seawater to quench his thirst during hot days.
The 85-year-old of Ligau Village was among the 200 who joined government officials to commission the new desalination plant that was commissioned over the weekend.
Mr Kuro recalled how he and his friends used to drink seawater after playing rugby on some sunny afternoons.
He said they had no other choice during dry weather as the water springs would dry up.
Standing among his kinsmen and women, the soft-spoken grey haired villager said those living on Kia today were fortunate and blessed to have a desalination plant.
Mr Kuro remembers how, in his younger days, he would ask God why the island was without proper water supply.
While they had their share of good and bad days, he said the worst time to be living on the island was during the long dry weather.
Before the installation of the desalination plant, villagers had to look for their own drinking water because the village pool was only used for washing and cooking.
Such challenges, he said, forced many to turn to the sea to quench their thirst.
He believes the desalination plants are a blessing from God and the questions asked over the past decades were finally answered.
After tasting the desalinated water Mr Kuro said it tasted so much better than seawater.