BRI­TISH HELP FOR EX-SOL­DIERS, FAM­I­LIES

10 FI­JIAN FAM­I­LIES AF­FECTED BY WIN­STON NOT FOR­GOT­TEN IN UNITED KING­DOM

Fiji Sun - - Big Story - SELITA BOLANAVANUA SUVA Edited by Naisa Koroi Feed­back selita.bolanavanua@fi­jisun. com.fj

The Bri­tish Mil­i­tary Char­i­ties do­na­tion was pre­sented at the Royal Bri­tish Le­gion (Fiji Branch) Wel­fare Cen­tre in Do­main, Suva, by Me­lanie Hop­kins, Bri­tish High Com­mis­sioner to Fiji

Ten Fi­jian fam­i­lies who had served in the Bri­tish army re­ceived a hand­some do­na­tion to help them re­build af­ter Cy­clone Win­ston.

The 10 fam­i­lies ex­pressed their grat­i­tude to the Bri­tish Mil­i­tary Char­i­ties for their $200,000 as­sis­tance made on Thurs­day. Eseroma Waqa­lutu, a for­mer Bri­tish Army sol­dier, said af­ter re­turn­ing from UK in 2012, he went to Ovalau and took up farm­ing. His farm was com­pletely de­stroyed along with his home af­ter the cy­clone.

“I was serv­ing for 12 years in Bri­tish and we’re glad that there’s still con­cern from the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment to­wards us. I’m re­ally glad be­cause now I’m cer­tain that my fam­ily will be fine. I will be able to re­build my home with the amount I re­ceive and I’m thank­ful,” he said. Mr Waqa­lutu said they were still wait­ing for a re­sponse from gov­ern­ment on the build­ing ma­te­ri­als and at the mo­ment they have been shel­ter­ing in a small shed and a tent. He is mar­ried and has a yearold son. A fam­ily from Naweni in Vanua Levu was among the 10 fam­i­lies aided. They came on be­half of their fa­ther, Ma­teo Rokovesa, who had served in the 1960s. Mr Rokovesa is now 75-years-old.

Tes­ti­mony

Mr Rokovesa’s son-in-law, Archie An­drews, said: “We just built a new house in the vil­lage and it was fully de­stroyed by Win­ston. Apart from food, we haven’t re­ceived any build­ing ma­te­rial from Gov­ern­ment yet and un­til now we’ve been liv­ing in tents and a small shed which we built to take shel­ter for the time be­ing.” Tal­ica Waqani­vanua of Roko­roko in Ra, the wife of Laise­nia Waqani­vanua who was a for­mer Bri­tish Army sol­dier, said she was re­ally happy and over­whelmed.

“Af­ter Win­ston, we lost nearly ev­ery­thing. I have a con­crete house and only one room was left which we us­ing now. Ev­ery­thing else is gone. Some of our be­long­ings are still in tents. Our power lines and posts were all down and we need to fix them which will cost around $3000. With the do­na­tion to­day, I be­lieve we will get ev­ery­thing back in place. We have four chil­dren and this will in­deed help us,” said Mrs Waqani­vanua.

The Bri­tish Mil­i­tary Char­i­ties do­na­tion was pre­sented at the Royal Bri­tish Le­gion (Fiji Branch) Wel­fare Cen­tre in Do­main, Suva by Bri­tish High Com­mis­sioner to Fiji Me­lanie Hop­kins. Ms Hop­kins said they had ob­served that the re­cov­ery ef­fort for many peo­ple of Fiji had been very dif­fi­cult. “We hope that the do­na­tion will ease some of the prob­lems, and we are re­ally glad to of­fer help,” she said. Ratu Meli Ve­sikula, chair­man of the Royal Le­gion (Fiji Branch) said the $200,000 would be shared ac­cord­ing to the quo­ta­tions pre­sented by the hard­ware shop and the ag­gre­gate of dam­ages.

“Our grat­i­tude goes to Bri­tish char­ity be­cause if it wasn’t for them, th­ese peo­ple would still suf­fer. I had vis­ited few places in try­ing to iden­tify the dam­aged homes and we are for­tu­nate for the mag­na­nim­ity,” Ratu Meli said.

Photo: Selita Bolanavanua

Sit­ting from left: Chair­man of the Royal Bri­tish Le­gion(Fiji Branch) Ratu Meli Ve­sikula, Bri­tish High Com­mis­sioner to Fiji Me­lanie Hop­kins, her part­ner, Alessan­dro Trup­pia and Bri­tish Army sup­port of­fi­cer at the Bri­tish High Com­mis­sion Ma­jor(Ret’d) Jim Hall with fam­i­lies of for­mer Fi­jian Sol­diers serv­ing in Her Majesty’s Armed Force who were af­fected by Trop­i­cal Cy­clone Win­ston.

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