While it is now over a week since cyclone Winston hit Fiji, leaving at least 44 people dead and close to 40,000 people without homes, the islands are still reeling.
the heart-breaking pictures coming out of the region have prompted me to make a donation to Cyclone Winston relief. So many people have lost their homes and – in worst cases – family members. A little help can go a long way in a disaster zone.
The people of Fiji are desperate right now, and I know many New Zealanders want to contribute in some way too.
Please don’t send goods like food, clothes and blankets. However well-meaning, in my experience of disasters these are rarely suitable, taking huge amounts of effort to sort and distribute, and often end up sitting on a wharf or in a warehouse, wasted despite best intentions.
Our government has sent relief flights to Fiji. My hope is that a ship of relief supplies will follow quickly. If not, it’s a major oversight.
If you want contribute, my recommendation is to go through a reliable aid agency such as Red Cross, Unicef or Save the Children. They have great systems in place to make sure your contribution gets to where it’s needed most.
Here’s Beth’s story:
My husband’s mum and dad live near Rakiraki, one of the regions hit by cyclone Winston last Saturday. While my mum-in-law was in New Zealand at the time, my father-in-law was alone in their house during the worst of the storm. With all communication lines in the region down it was almost two days before we heard that he was okay. We are so grateful and happy that he is alright. Their home has some damage, but it's nothing compared to what others are going through in that community. As our Dad said: "It's a disaster. An absolute disaster". Many people have lost everything – their homes are gone, they have nothing. In some area roads are still impassable due to debris and villagers have yet to receive any form of assistance.
I've just made a donation to the Red Cross appeal for Fiji. If you can spare a few dollars, please do too. The people of Fiji really need our help.
Donations can be made either through the Auckland mayoral fund; the Red Cross or Unicef. Alternatively, text FIJI to 2923 to make a $3 donation.