NEWS

Ra Schools Of Hope For Future

Yesterday was a day of joy and relief for three schools in Ra. Their faces said it all. It’s been worth the wait. After enduring 17 months of trials, hardship
26 Jul 2017 11:00
Ra Schools Of Hope For Future
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama with students at Tataiya Memorial School in Ra on July 25, 2017. Photo: Jone Luvenitoga

Yesterday was a day of joy and relief for three schools in Ra.

Their faces said it all.

It’s been worth the wait. After enduring 17 months of trials, hardship and rebuilding following the devastation caused by Tropical Cyclone Winston, they had cause to celebrate.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama crossed rivers to open the rebuilt Dobuilevu Muslim School, Tataiya Memorial School and Naseyani Primary School. The projects cost $1.3 million.

The people’s mood was best summed up by Dobuilevu Muslim School head teacher Shahem Hussein who said: “My heart has been healed seeing the way children are smiling whenever they sat on these new desks and entering the classrooms.

“You should see the faces of the first students who entered this new building staring at the white painted walls.

“I had to control myself and I thank the PM for that,” he said.

“This is the first time that members of this community have come close to a Prime Minister and shake his hands.”

School children jostled for space to be close to Mr Bainimarama when he cut the celebratory cakes.

Mr Hussein was emotional.

Beside him stood his daughter Tasniya Hussein, a Year Seven student.

They still remembered the evening of February 20 last year when 140 people sought shelter in the old school block.

“The school was jam-packed with people who thought the evacuation centre would hold,” Mr Hussein said.

At the height of the cyclone the roof gave way, he added.  He said there was utter chaos, people were screaming and running. It seemed there was no hope left.

Tasniya hid under a table that was crammed against a wall with a few of her school mates.

The whole experience had taken its toll on her studies and her grades slumped.

Now, she said, she had reclaimed her top spot once again in Mathematics with a 95 per cent pass during her mid-year exam. The move to the rebuilt school had lifted her spirit.

Naomi Rokomuani was another who lost all her household belongings and her home.

She was dragged to the evacuation centre by her husband just because she couldn’t resist the strong winds.

“I would have been blown away like one of those debris during the cyclone,” was all she said.

She thanked PM that the school will act as an evacuation centre which she could rely on during a similar cyclone.

Avinesh Dutt Sharma of Dugapatu Settlement, just a few kilometres from Tataiya Indian School left his community with three of his daughters straight after the cyclone.

“I had taken shelter elsewhere and returned to a home that was no longer there,” Mr Sharma said.

His mother, like a few other members of his family suffered broken bones, bruises and cuts.

He praised the PM for the rebuilt schools.

While commissioning the three district schools, Mr Bainimarama said the new facilities were evidence of his Government’s priorities.

“We have made that stand from the beginning and we will see it to the end. Stand with me and together we provide the best for the future of this country,” Mr Bainimarama said.

“Your children will no longer suffer the scotching heat of studying in tents and soggy grounds during wet seasons but to look forward to the good days ahead of them,” he said.

The cost of the newly-constructed refurbished building at Dobuilevu Muslim School totalled $465,102.42.

For Tataiya Memorial School, a total of $483,605.64 saw the construction of its staff quarters and utility block.

This includes the refurbishment of its toilet block, classroom block and walkways.

The newly upgraded administration, classrooms, classroom blocks and the school kindergarten at Naseyani Primary School cost $450,086.25.

Tataiya Memorial School chairperson Pundit Jayant Maharaj was lost of words when he remembered the suffering of their people.

“I just can’t find the right words to thank the Prime Minister,” Mr Maharaj said.

Edited by Ranoba Baoa

Feedback: jone.luvenitoga@fijisun.com.fj

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