Disaster response and the kindness of strangers

You may have sensed some overwhelm in last week’s blog update. Our Coordinator Urmila had lost everything, she and her family had been injured in the fury of TC Winston and we had only been able to locate 6 of 60 Girls we support at that stage. It felt raw and heavy.

We are still in the impact and response phase of the February 20 disaster, but this week we have seen glimpses of recovery.

Urmila and her family were moved from the evacuation centre back to their land (pictured) and the Fiji Red Cross provided them with a tent to sleep in. Electricity and the mobile network was restored so we were able to be in touch every day and get a better sense of the situation.

One of our team members Jackie had spread the word among her networks and within 24 hours we had 2 volunteers, Foto and Seema, who were already in Suva and prepared to travel to RakiRaki and spend 3 days locating the remaining 54 Girls and their families and assess their situation.

By Thursday afternoon we knew that 47 were safe, many injured and many without homes, but safe.

By Friday afternoon they had all been located and we had a clearer picture.

8 have lost homes, some have been hospitalised with injuries, other have been treated by medical teams and sent back to evacuation centres or makeshift homes in tents and under tarpaulins // The sisters pictured here have lost their home and the one on the left has a deep laceration to her right arm from flying debri during the cyclone. But they are smiling.

Sisters (2)

Every Girl we support has been impacted. Every home is damaged, there is debri and rubbish everywhere, clean water and food are still not readily available and all the mums we support with small business will need to start again.

So here’s what we are doing and how you can be involved:

1. We have a general appeal which we will draw funds from to respond as needs are assessed. For example, we sent money over this week to purchase water, solar lights, medical supplies and other emergency items, which Urmila identified were needed. Click here to give to these sorts of needs.

2. Our great friends the German International School Sydney have an appeal open to rebuild Urmila’s house! Go to this link to give.

3. I will be trekking across Fiji’s beautiful interior in May, raising funds to support life getting back to normal. So, Girls back to school, phone credit for mums to re-establish businesses, travel passes, books, uniforms etc. If you would like to help me do that as I walk across Viti Levu, please click here.

100% of the money you give will go to the community of RakiRaki to help them rebuild their lives. They will have a voice in how this needs to happen and we will be guided by them.

We said last week that {Our edge is in hearing that someone needs their glasses replaced, or their prescription medication filled, or some pots for cooking. We are there and listening and ready to act} – Larger organisations, the military and the Fiji Government will attend to infrastructure and do the big stuff, we’re there to fill in the gaps.

We are so grateful to Foto and Seema for their time this week, and to so many others // Neel who offered to get in his truck and find the Girls this weekend if needed, GLEAM, another organisation supporting Girls in the Pacific who donated $500, Georgie, the photographer who found us online and will travel to RakiRaki from New Zealand this week to capture this journey towards recovery – and everyone else who has come alongside and been so generous.

THANK YOU!

In solidarity with our friends and the community we work with,

Jane for team ‘ a Girl & her world’

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