Villagers not ready to give up

NAVATU, located off mainland Kubulau, Bua, only had nine of the 33 homes standing when villagers came out of their safe houses the morning after Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston swept through their coastal village.

They were not prepared to see the aftermath. Only house foundations remained and their vegetation looked completely different — an ugly makeover.

But since last Monday, and one assessment visit by northern government officials later, the villagers are not ready to give up.

Acknowledging the damage they suffered would be similar or worse in some other areas, village elder Sailosi Rakanace said they owed it to themselves first to begin rebuilding their lives.

And he said their main priority was to ensure all families returned to their own homes.

Mr Rakanace said able-bodied men were repairing every damaged home.

He said it was important that families returned home so they could focus on other key areas they needed to address such as clearing of debris, reviving their sources of income, getting their children back to school, and restoring security in their individual families.

He added they would not wait for Government assistance but take the lead role in helping themselves and their own. Mr Rakanace said not one of the 156 villagers were injured.

He said this was the first cyclone that destroyed many of their homes, compared with Hurricane Bebe that only removed the roof of two homes that year.

Their kindergarten was destroyed and students’ books damaged.

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