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Embassy Team Inspects School Damage

Embassy Team Inspects School Damage
From left: RFMF Force Development Captain Kelepi Tuiloma, RFMF Engineer Corporal Jone Drauna, US Defence Attaché Commander Constantine Panayiotou, US Embassy Rep Inia Tunidau and Saint John’s College Principal Aloisio Saukuru at Cawaci, Ovalau, Lomaiviti, on May 21, 2018. Photo: Selita Bolanavanua
May 22
14:25 2018

Officials of the US Embassy in Suva have begun assess­ments on the Koa Moana Project at Saint John’s College at Cawaci on Ovalau, Lomaiviti.

The assessment involves survey­ing damage caused to the school in the wake of tropical cyclones Josie and Keni. The project was part of the deployment of US Marines and sailors with Task Force Koa Moana in the Asia-Pacific region.

From July 1 to August 1, 2016, the team conducted training with the Seabees from US Naval Mobile Con­struction Battalion 4 and engineers with the Republic of Fiji Military Force.

They built a one-room building and repaired the roof on the nine-room building during that time.

US Embassy Defence Attaché Commander Constantine Panayi­otou said as part of the project, it took the team two weeks to build the one-room building in 2016.

He said the contractors repairing the school asked for physical help and assistance in repairing the roof on the nine-room building, which they offered.

“They asked us for help, but it was not the scope of our project,” he said.

However, during Tropical Cyclone Keni the same rooftops were blown away, which affected more than 200 students.

“Our goal now is to have the US Navy, engineers or army to come work with RFMF engineers to re­pair these roofs and make it strong­er, so the kids could use these class­rooms.”

Commander Panayiotou said the visit yesterday was not only to see the building, but their main prior­ity there was to meet the students that would be benefiting from the assistance itself.

“The building is just a tool, I want­ed to meet face-to-face with the chil­dren who would benefit from it. The connection that we really want to make is with the students,” he said.

“The kids are compressed with the space they have here. They had to give up their cafeteria, woodshops for classrooms.

“Staff are now meeting in the library, so the kids are really dis­placed a little. We want to get this plan put in place as quickly as pos­sible to get them back in the class­rooms so that they can have a good learning environment.”

Commander Panayiotou added the visit was also to look at technical as­pects of the project.

Joining the assessment team were RFMF’s Captain Kelepi Tuiloma and engineer Corporal Jone Drau­na.

“They are going to write up their assessment report next week and we will get our engineer as well and check out the funding,” Command­er Panayiotou said.

Edited by Epineri Vula

selita.bolanavanua@fijisun.com.fj

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