Tropical Cyclone Winston, the second most powerful storm on record, struck Fiji on 20 February 2016, killing 44 people and leaving a trail of destruction behind equivalent to 29 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.
The Asian Development Bank provided Fiji with a $50 million loan, which was used primarily to build back better 495 schools.
Sakiusa Dausigatikoilau, a teacher from the Ra High School on Fiji’s northern coast, tells the story of how he made it through the cyclone and explains why he is now happy to call his new school building a home.
Fiji - Tropical CycloneWinston, the second most powerful storm on record, struck Fiji on 20 February 2016.
It killed 44 people and left a trail of destruction behind equivalent to 29 per cent of Fiji’s Gross Domestic Product.
“When the cyclone struck us, most of the teachers were going away for that weekend,” says
Sakiusa Dausigatikoilau, a teacher from the Ra High School, on the country’s northern coast.
“As for the teachers who were staying on the school compound, we didn’t know that the cyclone would hit us during that day.
“When it struck us, I can remember, it was so fast that the reaction, we were able to react very slowly because of what happened.
“It kept on raining and raining, and suddenly raining heavily. Also, the wind was really hard.
“On my way from the hall, my wife was calling, to our place the first two houses that I met on the way were blown out.
“What I experienced during that particular night, everybody was really scared. For me, I can say what happened my wife was really angry with me.
“During those times I was trying to help other teachers.
“So we were able to gather everybody during that night. There were 21 teachers with their families and everybody was able to be in that hall.
“We moved everybody into the hall and all through the night, we tried to settle.
“There was water inside the hall. We are bringing the bedding from the dormitories to put in the hall for them to use.
“So all through the night, the men were standing up and letting our wives and children use the beds.
“For the school, there was big damage. The whole of this building was down – this new building, eh. This whole building was down and nine quarters were completely damaged.
“There were 21 quarters altogether, nice quarters were completely damaged, and 11 quarters were partly damaged. So, there was nothing left for us.
“We were in the tents for, I think, almost one year. Almost a year I can remember.
ADB provided Fiji with a $50 million loan, which was used primarily to build back better 495 schools.
“What we do. If we see about a tent, tents were supposed to be only three months, the tent that was given to us.
“Most of the time it was really raining. We were able to put up this tent and we just shipped from this particular place to that place. Once the place got so muddy, we moved the tent to another place. Every week we shifted the tent around the hall.
“Right now we are living in the new staff quarter and that’s a big change for us, we got everything inside the house, the house is fully furnished and let’s say we are comfortable and also feeling secure.
“Our classroom, it is safe and secure. There is space within the classroom and also it is able to withstand category 5 cyclone. That’s what I can say about the new classroom that was built.”
“It can cater around 30 students inside the classroom.
“There’s three new classroom blocks and 8 new staff quarters and 31 upgraded window blades that were constructed.
“I live and work in this place, as I said, now in my sixth year and now we are comfortable to call this place a home.”