23 February, 2016

“This is my first time to experience such a devastating hurricane. It was very devastating and very frightening.”

Kalisito and his wife Francis came home from church with their four daughters on Saturday afternoon, and quite literally walked into one of the largest recorded cyclones in the southern hemisphere. The family from Rakiraki on the north coast of Fiji’s main island Viti Levu never stood a chance against the category five mega storm that destroyed every building in the area.

They had heard on the radio that Cyclone Winston would come through early on Sunday morning, but it came earlier than expected, giving Kilisito’s family little time to prepare. They didn’t even have time to grab any possessions.

“When the wind came with high speed I told my family to run and find shelter.”

Pointing to the empty house next door, made of brick and much sturdier, they ran across the grass and took shelter in the bathroom. The tiny room provided safety from the monster that flattened everything around them. Francis remembers tears running down her youngest daughter’s face as her cries were drowned out by the cyclone’s roar. When the roof blew off the house they were sheltering in, the girls screamed. Kalisito says he felt shattered, but tried to keep his emotions inside to provide encouragement and strength for his family.

He says his house is “messed up and twisted” and will have to be completely rebuilt. The family have been sleeping in the car since their house is gone, taking turns because all six of them can’t fit inside together. They urgently need shelter, Kalisito says, and food supplies are running dangerously low.

ADRA is conducting assessments and procuring supplies to distribute much-needed help to people like Kalisito’s family. Until Tuesday, they were cut off from receiving help, with roads blocked and mobile phone reception not working. Trees have been uprooted, concrete electricity poles snapped in half, and houses completely flattened as though they were made of paper.

Still, Francis can look on the bright side. “We are thankful we didn’t lose our lives even though we lost so much.”

Your donation to ADRA’s Cyclone Winston appeal will help people like Kalisito and Francis get their family’s life back on track.