9 April, 2012
Until and unless you have lost everything, stripped to just the clothes you wear, would you understand what it means.
When your child is hungry and cold, hope is all you have. And hope is all you can do to rebuild what you have toiled for in one, two, three or perhaps five decades.
Today, those that have been affected by the floods, are doing just that ù hoping.
"We have almost given up," flood victim, Sachin Govind who lives at the Nawaka settlement opposite St Andrews Primary School said.
"Two floods in three months are just unbearable. We have completely lost everything. We haven't slept for five days because there is still water and mud in the house. We are relying on help to survive."
At 4am last Friday, 200 Vodafone Fiji staff members led by their managing director Aslam Khan, travelled to the Western Division to distribute food and basic household packs to flood victims.
Each pack was worth $430 and contained basic household items, food stuff, health and hygiene and other essential goods and kitchenware.
The packs were worth over $300,000. Staff members had sacrificed $150,000 of their development fund, used for education and training purposes to help the flood victims.
Vodafone Global matched the assistance believing that the Fiji staff members had lived up to the values of the company.
"When we heard Vodafone was coming with the packs, we were praying that they would visit our area," Mr Govind said.
"We had tears in our eyes when we saw Mr Khan and his staff walking down the muddy roads with cartons on their backs going house to house delivering the packs. Their pack included almost every basic household thing that we needed to start our lives again. They had pots, plates, spoons, stove, bed sheets, blankets, food items, toilet paper etc. It is the best assistance pack we have ever received."
Mr Khan said Vodafone's assistance was the only humane thing to do.
"We decided to deliver the packs ourselves because we wanted our assistance to reach the people that were most badly affected. We saw firsthand the destruction caused by the floods. Almost every household in Nawaka, one of the areas that we visited was under water. It is unimaginable how people survived. Our staff also got to contribute to a great cause. We in Suva are lucky in so many ways. Our heart aches for our brothers and sisters in the West," he said.
A villager directs Vodafone Fiji's flood relief team led by managing director Aslam Khan, right,
and Head of Corporate Affairs Shailendra Prasad, left, to areas affected by floods.
The team visited Semo, Nalele and Navisabasaba villages in Sigatoka where they distributed 130 packs, 360 packs were distributed in Nadi covering areas in Navakai, Nawaka, Sabeto, Navo, Nasoso and Careras in Votulevu. Another team visited areas in Lautoka where they distributed 30 packs.
In Ba, Mr Khan and his team visited Natutu, Vatua, Mataniqara villages and greater Naqararua community.
Most of these places are sugarcane farming areas and very close to the Ba River.
"In the three villages we visited, we were the first to provide them with flood relief items and due to the location of their villages, getting there was quite a challenge," Mr Khan said.
"Goods were transported from the container truck to a three-tonne carrier and distributed to the affected areas.
"All the places were still filled with mud and everywhere we went families were busy cleaning their houses and trying to recover the items that could be reused.
"Debris filled the villages and there was foul stench and trail of destruction everywhere.
"A total of 720 families were visited and assisted in Sigatoka, Nadi, Lautoka and Ba areas."
"It was a most moving and overwhelming experience to see the plight of the people. Everywhere we went, people were so thankful for our assistance. They could not hold back emotions and had tears streaming down their eyes as they step to receive the packs. We only wish we could do more given that many people still needed help," Vodafone head of Corporate Affairs Shailendra Prasad said.
The company is expected to organise future assistance for school children and farmers.