The noise was incredible.  Just so loud and so frightening. We were sheltering under a table wondering if the roof would come off … and it did.  “The kids were terrified.  We could only tell them to hold on to whatever they could”.
Tropical Cyclone Yasa in December 2020 was the most severe cyclone in the Pacific in decades devastating large parts of Fiji and was promptly followed the very next month by a second severe Cyclone Ana. Cyclone Yasa was particularly devastating to Fiji’s northern islands including Vanua Levu with wide-spread destruction of buildings and the crops on which so many livelihoods depended.
It was into this situation that the Rotary Club of Labasa mobilised, initially to support their own member families, but quickly into distributing Emergency Response Kits.  After the initial response, a visit to cyclone hit areas by Labasa Rotary members they realised that there was a need to provide people with roofs as soon as possible especially in cases where there were many family members and taking into consideration children and people with disabilities.
The ‘Gift a Roof’ project was born.
The Rotary club of Labasa was then energised by the Rotary Club of Brisbane International with a donation of AU$10,000 seed funding followed by another F$35,000 as projects progressed (see below), as well as a container of building material.  Other donations were soon received including F$25,000 from Suva Rotary and F$4,000 from Portland Rotary (Vic) and many smaller donations from caring organistions and individuals. Ultimately about F$100,000 became available for the project all of which and more will be needed before the project is complete.
The need is huge with at least 6,000 people in housing that lost their roofs in the cyclones.  Unfortunately, the Fijian Government is not able to help everyone, especially as they are still trying to repair damage from as far back as Cyclone Winston in February 2016 so capable organisations such as Labasa Rotary have needed and been able to step in for those in real need. 
In inspecting the damage Labasa Rotary soon realised that they were unable to assist those who’s houses had been destroyed but they could make a vast difference helping those who had lost only their roofs.  The Gift a Roof campaign seeks to obtain the funding needed to enable homeowners to repair their own roofs so they can go back to living in them.  The amount contributed is F$1,000 that goes towards material such as roofing iron, strapping, crews etc and once obtained most roofs are restored in a couple of days.  Also supporting is Live and Learn who have educators providing the ‘how to’ of repairs capable of withstanding future cyclones.
Although they have some funding yet to be applied, the need is enormous so they would be grateful for all support of the Gift a Roof project from Rotary clubs, organisations and individuals willing to help Fiji families recover [before the next cyclone season].  Contact Edwin Chand for more information.
Below are two example stories but a report of progress to date with many ore is available HERE.
Illustrative Project 1 - Sanjay (Family of 5)- Waibunabuna, Bua
Pictures show the devastation after Cyclone Yasa, then the family received a much needed Emergency Response Kits to help the family with tarpaulin, mosquito nets, machetes, hammer, nails and other essentials, and lastly the completed project and a much relieved and happy family.
Sanjay and his family live in Waibunabuna opposite the Waibunabuna Primary School. Sanjay and his wife have 3 children. A daughter in nursing school, a daughter in Form 3 and 24 year old son who suffers from epileptic fits and has to be looked after by his parents. Sanjay is a farmer of poultry and livestock. Upon Rotary Labasa’s visit, the damage was assessed as roof damage, loss of livestock and poultry, solar panels and post damage, and water source damage. Rotary Labasa felt that the family was in dire need of food, water and shelter. There had been numerous rations in the house but a roof was important for shelter, security and protection of their rations. The family needed 20 pieces of 40 feet, i.e 400 feet of corrugated iron to get the roof fixed and the family life to some normalcy. The roof was installed in two days and now the family have a shelter.
Illustrative Project 2: Prat Kumari (Family of 6), Nararo, Nagigi
Picture shows the family ahead of the rebuild, and the second some much needs comfort provided, an lastly the completed roofing project.
Prat Kumari and her family live in Nararo, 7km from the main road at Nagigi, Labasa. Their family was greatly affected by TC Yasa where the house roof was partially blown off and side walls damaged. The family consists of 6 members, out of which 4 are specially challenged. Two (2) of her children; Ravin Raj, 42, separated and is a stroke patient with 2 daughters who both are disabled and Ritesh Raj, separated, with one son aged 12 years.
The two disabled children are Suhani raj, 18, who is unable to speak and Anita Raj, 15, is unable to walk. Prat Kumari receives Social Welfare assistance in the amount of $130.00 and Suhani and Anita receive $80 per month for their survival. The 12 year old Rohan Raj is a class 6 student at Nagigi Primary school.
The family were living in the house with a temporary roof made of tarpaulin and old leaking roofing iron. The family of 6 share one bedroom where the daughters sleep on one mattress on the bed and the others sleep on the floor. They had two more rooms with beds but no mattresses and this was addressed to allow everyone to have beds.
Upon visitation by the Rotary Club of Labasa, the plight and hardship of this household was immediately addressed with roofing irons, timber, nails, strapping, mattresses, food, clothing and sanitary pads. A carpenter was immediately engaged and the roof completed in two days. It was touching to see that a family with so little were so content and engaged joyfully with the carpenters to complete their home. This family is a very special case due to the nature of their disabilities and their mental capacity. The Rotary Club of Labasa will be adopting them as a family to better their livelihood. The two daughters are always looking forward to candy. While asking Mrs Prat Kumari for her needs, she requested for sanitary pads as they couldn’t afford them and were using pieces of cloth instead.
The family is very impoverished and needs further special consideration.
More of these individual project stories are HERE or at the Labasa Rotary Facebook page
Other Labasa Rotary projects continue such as food parcels and Days for Girls and Days for MOMS hygiene packs.

Article source: Edwin Chand, Labasa Rotary