We had not seen our wonderful friends Ian and Wendy from S/V Outsider for 3 years, since Grenada.
In cruising life, like on land, you meet people that come and go in your lives, then you meet people who are very special and it was at Makogai that we met up again with these "special" people.
In February this year, Cyclone Winston hit Fiji, with a devastation that they had not experienced before. Being a Category 5 cyclone it left massive destruction in its wake.
Ian and Wendy were the first to respond to Makogai and found
90% of the village and the school totally destroyed.
Initially responding to the immediate needs - medical, drinking water, sanitation, shelter, clothing etc
Then began the assessment for rebuild. Wendy and Ian volunteered for Sea Mercy and with their assistance the rebuild begun. Ian spoke on radio in Australia and put out a request for help from anyone that was willing to come to this small island and assist with rebuilding.
The villages were in shock, having hidden under floorboards of buildings while the rest of the structure disappeared around them... when the floor started going, then running for their lives, carrying 8 month old baby, 80 year old women and hiding under the floor of another structure. How there was no loss of life was unbelievable!
During the period of rebuild, Ian and Wendy had approximately 30 boats, people of 20 nationalities and around 120 people come to assist in the rebuild. Early on, the volunteer work from Doctors and Psycologists was incredible for the villagers and of course the rest of volunteers being "anyone" who could do "anything" to help.
Some of the first people to arrive to assist were James, Hannah and their 3 children
(Joshua, Jacob and Sady) from S/V Carpe Diem.
They stayed for the complete project and were amazing with the rebuild and for support with Wendy and Ian who spearheaded the complete project.
All the materials had to arrive via boat, to give one of thousands of examples the following shows
Ian and Wendy bringing water tanks lashed on Outsider
and towing them ashore
This applied to everything, it would either come on boats or the barge and then carried ashore and to the village, the village women carrying large foundation poles, gallons and gallons of paint.
As much as could was recycled from the destruction - one guys job was straightening nails!
The rebuild project took 3 months. We only managed to arrive for the last 31/2 weeks and what a humbling experience it was to be involved with these incredibly resilient villagers. It is something that will stay with us for the rest of our lives.
We went via long boat each morning to the village - about 15 minutes
sometimes with the weather making it a exiting trip.
Ian would trawl a line and hope that a fish would be caught,
all the volunteers had to be fed for lunch...
Unfortunately during our time there, I didn't take any photos as each day blended with the next with work, however I have a couple of shots from others just from our last couple of days there...
The finished result was incredible.
Ian and Wendy in front of one of the school buildings
(the artwork was completed by Villagers and Volunteers - a communal effort)
The artwork on the school building below completed by a artist friend of Ian and Wendy
Inside the classrooms...
Very frightened traumatised villagers now smiling and laughing...
The hand over ceremony was attended by Government officials, Sea Mercy and volunteers
- a truly moving experience with them dancing telling their stories of the cyclone in one of the dances, the rest being traditional dance.
The ribbon cutting completed by the government official
(with Rosa handing over the scissors - dressed in her traditional tapa dress)
The guys stayed up all night to have the Lovo ready in time for the official lunch
When Isa Lei (Fijia Goodbye) was sung to us tears flowed freely from us all