On Sunday Christian World Service launched an appeal for Fiji after Cyclone Winston caused widespread destruction. The category five storm affected most of the population. The death toll has reached 42 and continues to rise. Many more have been injured and are traumatised by their experience. The Fijian Government reports more than 13,000 people are sheltering in evacuation centres.
With wind gusts of up to 325 kilometres an hour and waves over ten metres, the cyclone smashed homes and livelihoods as well as destroying vegetable gardens and crops on which families depended for food. The death toll reached 29 yesterday and is climbing. Power, communications and vital infrastructure like ships and wharves have been destroyed.
CWS has now heard from partners who had lost power and communications. The Social Empowerment and Education Programme (SEEP) is planning their response. Their immediate focus is on isolated communities in the hilly interior of VitiLevu. They will assist with food, shelter and psychosocial programmes for children where it is most needed.
The Peoples Community Network working in the informal settlements is working out what needs to be done. Both groups are coordinating with local government, other community groups and churches. They worked with these communities before the disaster and will do so in the years ahead.
Our partners will keep working to make sure these vulnerable communities are back on their feet and prepared for natural disasters.
CWS is asking churches and people of faith to remember the people of Fiji in their prayers in the weeks and months ahead.
Donations to the Fiji Cyclone Appeal can be made:
•On line to the Fiji Cyclone Appeal and by direct deposit at https://cws.org.nz/donate
•By Phone with a credit card: 0800 74 73 72
•By Post to: CWS, PO Box 22652, Christchurch 8140
Christian World Service has been doing emergency relief since 1945. It works with local groups in 20 countries who are making change happen so people can live a life free from poverty. CWS is a member of the ACT Alliance (Action by Churches Together), a global coalition of more than 140 churches and church related organisations working together in the areas of humanitarian assistance, advocacy and community development.
24 February 2016