Five Aussies guys (four from NSW; one from Victoria) are this week in Savusavu, on Fiji’s second biggest island Vanua Levu, to help rebuild a village all but destroyed by Cyclone Winston.
Four of the men are former guests of the five-star eco resort Jean Michel Cousteau Fiji Island Resort. The fifth is gun builder Stu Roddy from Newcastle NSW who heard about the villagers’ plight and has downed tools this week to go and help.
While the resort is currently closed for repairs and plans to reopen in the next month or so, the local village Nukubalavu where most of the staff live, was almost completely flattened. Twenty-four homes were destroyed; another 21 badly damaged. The guys are also helping repair and rebuild a brand new kindergarten damaged by the super storm.
The men are part of a group of former guests of the resort and have set up a crowd fund to help raise $65k for the rebuild of the village. When local builder Stu Roddy, from Charlestown NSW, heard what they were doing he too downed tools and headed over yesterday (he arrived today, March 9) to help the rebuild. All have paid their own way to Fiji and are giving up their own time to help the 300-400 villagers, many who have been left with nothing. They have taken over heavy tools (3000 roof screws for example) and machinery to start the long process of rebuilding and expect this to be the first of at least two to three visits to help villagers rebuild.
For all of us, the villagers have become friends and their plight is devastating. Up to eight villagers are living under the one roof; other families are living beneath badly damaged houses. We want to do anything we can to help.
The crowd fund aims to raise funds to build new cyclone proof homes and to urgently rebuild damaged buildings. The money will be used for materials primarily but the men are using their own manpower to help with the rebuild, along with local Fijians, the resort and the Savusavu Community Foundation (SCF). So far we’ve raised almost $9000 in nine days but we need help to get the word out. On a wider scale almost $2 billion has reportedly been raised on crowd funding for Fiji post cyclone Winston.
Two of the men, Allan Stevens and Matthew Blackburn, live on Sydney’s northern beaches. Tom Szecsodi and Stu Roddy are from Newcastle NSW and Matt Young is a farmer from Victoria.
We have some good photographs of the village that you can see at https://www.facebook.com/Friends-Helping-Fiji and the men are available to be interviewed by Skype. To donate, no matter how small the amount, please go to our crowd funding website https://www.gofundme.com/bnrr34us
Thank you for any assistance you can give towards rebuilding this special Fijian village. Vinaka.