BRITISH HELP FOR EX-SOLDIERS, FAMILIES
10 FIJIAN FAMILIES AFFECTED BY WINSTON NOT FORGOTTEN IN UNITED KINGDOM
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.
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.
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.