Villager’s Hail PM A Messiah

Tailevu North villagers yesterday hailed Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama a “messiah”. They gave him this label after he rolled into two villages and two school evacuation centres in the Dawasamu
25 Feb 2016 14:12
Villager’s Hail PM A Messiah
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama with Ateca Naulumatua and her grandmother Milika Munivai during his visit to Tailevu North side yesterday. Report Page 4. Photo: Paulini Ratulailai

Tailevu North villagers yesterday hailed Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama a “messiah”.

They gave him this label after he rolled into two villages and two school evacuation centres in the Dawasamu district with much needed relief food rations and lots of encouragement.

The district was one of the worst-hit areas of Tropical Cyclone Winston’s path of destruction.

Farmer Aisea Cama, 43, of Silana Village, told a talanoa session that Mr Bainimarama was their saviour.

“You are a messiah,” he said referring to the food rations, water purification tablets, seeds to allow villagers to replant, replacement boat and engine.

After the talanoa session, Mr Cama was asked whether he seriously meant what he said or was he joking because of the special relationship (veitabani) between Dawasamu and Viwa in Bau where Mr Bainimarama is from?

He retorted: “Of course I am serious. He is the only Prime Minister to have visited us. Ratu Mara, Mr Rabuka and those that followed didn’t. We can sit with him, exchange jokes, share and discuss issues. He is a great leader because he listens.”

Paula Lagi, 44, of Nataleira Village said: “We are blessed by the PM’s visit. Not only has he brought us food, he has brought us hope too.

“Yes I agree that Mr Bainimarama is a messiah. This is the first time he has visited our village. Despite his busy schedule, he has come down to visit us.

“Fiji is blessed to have a leader like him. We know that God has anointed and chosen him to lead Fiji at this time. We will continue to support his Government.”

Samisoni Kalou, 53, mata ni tikina Dawasamu (district rep), of Driti Village, said: “I agree with the messiah tag. Mr Bainimarama is a great leader. He can sit down with us and openly discuss issues with us.”

Salote Marama, 50, a housewife of Driti, said: “Peace had deserted us last Saturday. Today it has returned with the visit by the Prime Minister. He has given us exactly what we need right now. We are grateful for his assistance and compassion.”

Mr Bainimarama had lit up the villagers’ faces with the one-month food rations, his words of wisdom and encouragement.

He said the whole of Fiji had suffered from Cyclone Winston.

Everything that the country had built in the past 30 years was destroyed in 24 hours, Mr Bainimarama said.

Just last week, he added that he was talking about how the economy was growing.

“Now we have to start from scratch again,” he said.

“We should have no illusion of the challenges that we all face. But we can all rise above these challenges, if we all stand together, rebuild and restore our lifestyles we once enjoyed.”

He asked the villagers to be patient and co-operate with Government’s efforts to restore water and power, fix roads, re-open schools, rebuild homes destroyed by Cyclone Winston, and feed and clothe victims until they are able to fend for themselves.

He said these were the priorities right now.

Mr Bainimarama also announced that Corrections officers will help to clear villages of debris while inmates will repair damaged schools.

The Government has put out an advertisement in the Fiji Sun calling for an expression of interest from registered builders about rebuilding homes. He said the enormity of the disaster required as many builders as possible to be involved to speed up the process.

He said he wanted to cut out bureaucratic red tape so that people could be helped quickly.

He said before it took a long time to distribute food rations. He wanted to change that so that there was a co-ordinated approach that included other projects.

He urged people to do what they could do for themselves and not wait for the Government.

Tailevu North from Queen Victoria School to Nasinu Village, the last Dawasamu village close to the boundary with Ra resembled a war zone that has been bombed.

Trees that survived Winston’s fury stood naked stripped of their branches and leaves. Some were draped with twisted corrugated iron. The countryside was strewn with all kinds of debris from  building materials to broken trees.

Mr Bainimarama has seen aerial shots of the devastation. But the reality of what he saw on the ground yesterday made him realise that the country could be in for a long haul.

He said: “I feel for the people.  They are still shocked because their homes have disappeared. Once the homes are rebuilt, confidence will return.”

Edited by Maria Vula



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