Family returns after 35 years

Patrick Desarranno (left) his wife Myriam, Florence, baby Alexandre, Thomas, Laureline and Gaelle. Picture: MATILDA SIMMONS

A Belgian family saved every month for five years so they could revisit their home town, Savusavu, after being away for about 30 years.

Florence Deserranno was two when she left Savusavu, her place of birth, in 1983 with her parents, Patrick and Myriam Deserranno who worked in Fiji from 1980 to 1983 under the United Nations.

Thirty-five years later, they returned to Fiji, accompanied by Florence’s husband and their three children.

Florence, a Belgian primary schoolteacher, said the trip had been a special one because it allowed her to visit her country of birth and show her children around Savusavu and Taveuni.

“When we decided to put aside money for this trip, I told my husband if we don’t do this now, we will never make it to Fiji,” she said.

“I wanted to see my birthplace, my home, the hospital, the beach where we used to go and it’s a dream come true being here.

“It’s even more special having my parents travel with us so they could show me and my family the places where we went to and stayed at.”

Her husband, Thomas Crepin, and their two daughters, Laureline and Gaelle, were excited about the trip.

Their youngest child, five-month-old Alexandre, was quite happy to be basking in the sunshine.

Florence said the family was already making plans for another trip when Alexandre got a bit older.

“I told my husband when our son turns 18, we have to bring him back because it’s important.

“When we left Savusavu I was very emotional and I made my husband promise to bring us all back, we have to come back.

” The family visited the hospital room where Florence was born and even met the nurse whose grandmother helped deliver her. Florence’s mother, Myriam, said she was happy to see that Savusavu had not changed much.

“I was afraid of coming back because of the changes I had expected to see,” she laughed.

“But Savusavu stayed the same through all these years, which I loved. “Our two years in Fiji back in the 1980s were pure bliss — just a holiday for me really.

“Savusavu was very quiet and it still is. There are more houses and resorts but they still preserved the spirit of Savusavu which we are pleased about.

“The one thing that hasn’t changed is how nice and kind the people of Fiji are. “The kindness of the Fijian people, I never see it anywhere else in the world.

“When they say bula they seem pleased to say it to you, even the maid, the security guard and that’s really lovely.”

Florence’s father, Patrick, was working for the United Nations Development Program when he was seconded to Fiji to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry in 1980.

He was based in Savusavu and Suva for two years before moving on to Vanuatu with his family.

The family returns to Belgium later this week.

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