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Fiji Time: 4:11 AM on Friday 25 April

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Grateful to celebrate

Shayal Devi
Wednesday, December 25, 2013

IT'S Christmas Day and what a difference a year can make in the way a family plans to celebrate this day annually.

This time last year thousands in the Western Division were still recovering from the wrath unleashed by Tropical Cyclone Evan, a Category Four storm that left hundreds homeless.

For Setareki Lomowaqa, the festive season brings with it a mix of emotions.

Yesterday the Matawalu resident celebrated along with the 472 other families whom the government helped by rebuilding their homes.

He said this year was completely different from the stressful situation of last year and described the rebuilding of his home as the "perfect Christmas gift".

"It is a blessing, that's what I can describe it as," the 57-year-old said.

"Last year was a very bad year for not only me but all those who had lost their homes in the cyclone.

"Most of my friends lost their homes and like my family, were unable to celebrate Christmas."

Mr Lomowaqa said he lost his farm as well.

"Everything that I had planted on my farm was gone in an instant. I used to plant cassava, bananas, dalo and other crops.

"After the cyclone, we were left with nothing. Christmas time last year was a big challenge.

Mr Lomowaqa said he was grateful to celebrate Christmas with his loved ones.

"Cherish your loved ones. That's the best message anyone can give each other on Christmas."