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Old 15-02-2017, 15:33   #1
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It's Nearly a year since cyclone Winston, the strongest ever recorded in the southern hemisphere packing winds up to 190 mph, slammed into Fiji in February 2016, causing unheralded destruction on many of the islands. Knowing I would be sailing there from French Polynesia the following June and wanting to be able to do something useful, I purchased a dozen Sawyer water filters with the help of Waves for Water, figuring they’d be of some use somewhere out there.

Originally designed for backpacking, they’ve had a modification allowing one to be screwed into the low side of a 5 gal bucket and drain by gravity into clean water bottles or another bucket. Presto: uncontaminated water for up to 30 families (100 people) as long as they’re regularly backflushed with the provided kit.

Once there, in Savusavu, I made contact with some Sea Mercy boats. Sea Mercy is a loose affiliation of cruisers in the South Pacific who show up at islands that have been hit by natural disasters to provide aid and assistance in the survival and rebuilding process. I’d first heard about them after Vanuatu sustained major damage in a March 2015 category 5 cyclone where 90% of homes were destroyed or sustained major damage. A number of yachts showed up within days, bringing food, clean water, lumber, chain saws and skills to help the rebuilding process.

My Sea Mercy contact quickly directed me to give half the filters to another yacht heading the next morning to the Lau group of Fijian islands, where clean water was in short supply, and then head to Taveuni, specifically to Vuna Village where epidemics of conjunctivitis and bronchitis, due in part to destruction of water catchment and storage systems, were rampant. We purchased six 5 gallon buckets at a local hardware store in Savusavu, and once in Vuna, performed the required sevusevu ceremony with the chief, me bringing the wrong kind of Kava is a story for another post, and then set to work installing the filters with villagers and showing them how to backflush. We were also able to deliver medical supplies donated to us for Fiji by a French anesthesiologist we met in Raiatea before heading west.

We spent several days there, moored just off a nearby [and newly rebuilt] dive resort. 70% of Vuna's homes, all the vegetable gardens, all the banana trees, and most of the cisterns and water storage facilities were destroyed. And most of the coconuts were knocked down, depriving them of one of the few sources of income. In spite of all that, these are some of the most welcoming and heartfelt peoples on the planet. They insisted on having us to share food and kava and music with them. [Kym, my partner, and I are musicians]. In turn we took the chief, his wife and nephew day sailing. Quite a thrill for them as they had never been on a sailboat!

Many cruisers, and scuba divers, have sampled the pristine waters of Fiji’s islands, and the sincere hospitality and aloha spirit of it’s inhabitants. So--how to continue helping them to restore their infrastructure? My daughter, Andrea Bouch, is the newly appointed director of Rustic Pathways Foundation, whose mission is to provide funds and volunteer workers to help areas like Fiji improve their infrastructure,, utilizing donations and the labor of high school kids who sign up for 10-21 day Rustic Pathways trips to sample the delights of these islands [diving, sailing, surfing, mountaineering] as well as interacting with local kids and families through their volunteer work. From her I learned that in Somosomo, schoolkids are still in tents, after the total destruction of their school. They need about $30,000 more to get it rebuilt. As cruisers, we have the incredible privilege of visiting these and other exotic destinations. And although many of us are on tight budgets, a donation of any size can quickly add to others to help meet the goal. I urge you to help give back to the places that give us so much pleasure.
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Old 20-02-2017, 05:28   #2
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Good on you!!!

Sea Mercy Fiji: Cyclone Winston Disaster Relief and Recovery Updates ➥ Sea Mercy Fiji: Cyclone Winston Disaster Relief and Recovery Updates

The Rustic Pathways Foundation ➥ Rustic Pathways Foundation

Rebuild Somosomo School (Fiji) ➥

The Nasivikoso Village School Project (Fiji) ➥

Donate ➥ Donate | Rustic Pathways Foundation
Gord May
"If you didn't have the time or money to do it right in the first place, when will you get the time/$ to fix it?"

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Fiji, rebuild

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