On Sunday, 12 April 2020, the Government of Fiji declared a State of Natural Disaster for areas severely affected by Tropical Cyclone Harold. The declaration was for certain parts of the Eastern, Central and Western Divisions of the country. In the Eastern Division, Kadavu and the Southern Lau Group that were badly hit. Almost simultaneously, on 15 April, the Government of Fiji also declared a State of Natural Disaster for the COVID-19 Pandemic across all Fijian Islands.
The main challenge with COVID 19 in my line of work, was witnessing the lackadaisical attitude demonstrated by people affected by TC Harold and how I was in the frontline in the distribution of supplies. To mitigate the risk of being infected, I wore a mask to every village we distributed the supplies to and the hygiene kits we distributed to the communities all had masks for adults and children. This began to change the behavior mostly of women and children in villages who were seen wearing masks after we distributed supplies to their villages.
The distribution of hygiene kits to the 397 affected households and the 463 school bags distributed to the primary and secondary schools in the Nakasaleka district all assisted with recovery. Parents were appreciative of the school bags and materials provided by SCF, which alleviated the stress of getting new school materials from mainland Vitilevu. The hygiene kits helped with the prevention of diseases that break out in the aftermath of tropical cyclones.
SCF conducted an initial Rapid Assessment in the district of Nakasaleka in Kadavu as its area of focus in its provision of life-saving humanitarian assistance to children. Aligning to SCF’s strategic plan, the rapid assessment addressed priority areas of Child Protection, Education and Water, Sanitation, Hygiene (WASH). As the logistics person and given the responsibility of Team Leader.
“my tasks included getting the supplies procured and delivered on time; it meant getting the response team to the affected communities safely and soundly; it meant ensuring that the outboard motors that were the main means of transportation were accredited by the Maritime Authority of Fiji. And most importantly, for me, it was to reach out to the most vulnerable child and to get him or her the needed assistance in time”