NEWS

Fijian 3 Return Home To Help

Three Fijians serving in the Australian Defence Force are proud to be here to help rebuild Fijian lives battered by Cyclone Winston. Apaitia Matalau, Tevita Vula and Apete Turuva are
02 Mar 2016 11:44
Fijian 3 Return Home To Help
From left Apaitia Matalau of Qamea Taveuni, Apete Turuva of Nadi and Tevita Vula of Savusavu. Photo: Ronald Kumar.

Three Fijians serving in the Australian Defence Force are proud to be here to help rebuild Fijian lives battered by Cyclone Winston.

Apaitia Matalau, Tevita Vula and Apete Turuva are part of the Australian navy HMAS Canberra relief operation team who are assigned to help in Koro Island.

Mr Vula of the Australian Army said: “When we heard the news that the team is coming to Fiji, we were giving high five’s to each other. The feeling was overwhelming.”

Mr Turuva, who is from Yavusania Village in Nadi, said: “It is a blessing to be here to help our people get back on their feet and look forward to better things that awaits them.”

He said his immediate family now lives in Australia but was grateful that all his family here were safe.

Mr Matalau, from Qamea in Taveuni, is currently serving in the Australian Navy Force.

“Hopefully I get to visit my village during our relief work and we will be sure to offer as much as we can during our stay here in Fiji,” he said.

HMAS Canberra is one of the largest naval ships ever to be constructed for the Royal Australian Navy.

Supplies on board the HMAS Canberra include hygiene, shelter, kitchen and bedding supplies. It is also carrying three additional MRH-90 helicopters (bringing the total number of Australian helicopters in Fiji to seven), water purification equipment and medical and humanitarian supplies.

The HMAS Canberra will be operating its first humanitarian and disaster relief work in Koro Island today.

Australian Joint Task Force Commander Brett Sonter said the team was prepared to be here for a month depending on the needs of the National Disaster Management Office.

“The vessel and its crew have been in training for a year since it was commissioned for exact missions such as this so I am confident that this platform and for that matter all the Australian Defence Force can deliver to the Fijian government what they want,” Commander Sonter said.

The people on board the ship are from the Australian Navy, air force, land force and defence administration are tasked initially with debris clearance, water purification and the delivery of first aid.

Commanding Officer Christopher Smith said the trip to Fiji was ideal for both the Australian and Fijian governments.

“There is a lot of asset here to help your government and your people. We have approximately 1000 people on board and we think that is about the right number which will aid you in the necessities of what is required here and now,” Commanding Officer Smith said.

The vessel carries amphibian crafts, containers of food, shelter and other relief supplies will also be dropped off during the teams’ visits around the islands.

Australia’s Deputy High Commissioner Karinda D’Aloisio said their government’s total humanitarian assistance package for TC Winston work was worth 23 million Fijian dollars. Edited by Naisa Koroi

Feedback: litia.cava@fijisun.com.fj

 

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