Generous donations and support given exemplify the Kiwi spirit – thanks!
The recent horrific events in New Zealand have again highlighted the generosity of many New Zealanders.
The acts of kindness and unity we have experienced since members of our NZ community were murdered in Christchurch have reminded me once again of the humanity and overwhelmingly generous support given by New Zealanders to the suffering families affected by Tropical Cyclone Winston in Fiji in 2016.
There was so much goodness around this effort that I celebrate in paying tribute to a country that can give.
Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston ravaged Fiji on 20 and 21 February 2016. It has been the most intense tropical cyclone in the Southern Hemisphere on record, as well as the strongest to make landfall. Cyclone Winston took 44 lives, impacted 350,000 people – almost half Fiji’s population – and destroyed or damaged more than 30,000 homes.
Scores of schools and other public and private properties suffered total destruction. Churches, roads and crops were destroyed in many places.
The cost of the cyclone was estimated to be $1.4 billion.
Fiji is a small country, geographically isolated and vulnerable to natural disasters. Flash floods caused by hurricanes have lashed Fiji in the past, especially in 2009 and 2012, but Cyclone Winston was the worst.
Neighbours helping out
As a responsible neighbour, New Zealand responded quickly, proving that it is a generous and compassionate country. The government sent its ship HMNZS Wellington filled with about 60 tons of aid supplies, and 71 military personnel to help in relief efforts.
New Zealanders in general, and those of Fijian origin in particular, rallied together as associations, groups, and individuals to extend their solidarity and support. At least 50 containers filled with food and essential supplies were sent to Fiji by individuals and individual organisations.
It was heartening to read and hear of positive response from all over the world.
Wellington’s overwhelming response
As part of the effort to help, I launched an appeal in Wellington to fill a container to be railed to Tauranga so that it could be put on a ship destined for Ramakrishna Mission, a Non-Government Organisation involved in humanitarian work and community welfare projects.
This appeal met with an outpouring of goods and the support given enabled a container to be filled within days. I immediately asked for another container which left at the same time. In the end, a total for FOUR containers were filled with generous gifts of support and love.
It was extremely gratifying to see the support and assistance readily given by a team of volunteers and to see the generous donations by people demonstrating their natural love and affection for people in their neighbouring country.
The support given was not only money and goods, people also donated their precious time for this initiative and cause.
I am so grateful to everyone all the support given and for the compassion for our people in Fiji.