NATION

PM Opens New School For Resilient Koro Islanders

The $3,252,940 strengthened building reconstruction included six classrooms, a dining hall, library and a main office.
10 Sep 2020 10:22
PM Opens New School For Resilient Koro Islanders

Koro Islanders have many stories to tell about surviving the wrath of Tropical Cyclone Winston.

The deadly storm that hit on February 2016, left many homes and buildings in ruins, including the school building that catered for children of Nakodu Village and Mudu Village. Needless to say, that day left painful memories for the people of Koro Island.

The reconstructed school

But yesterday was a day for the villagers of Nakodu and Mudu to celebrate. This was because it was the day that Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama opened a new school building as he began his Lomaiviti tour.

The $3,252,940 strengthened building reconstruction included six classrooms, a dining hall, library and a main office.

It caters for 81 primary school students and 13 Early Childhood Education pre-schoolers who are all taught by five teachers.

School Manager, Isimeli Nacika was thankful to the Government for assisting the school and two clans after TC Winston’s devastation.

“After TC Winston, it was a challenging time for the staff and board to assist and maintain the school so the school temporarily moved to Mudu Village where the village church was used as a makeshift classroom,” he said.

“Teachers had a difficult time because they had to use small spaces as classrooms. The teachers’ quarters had also been damaged.

“But now we are grateful for Government’s assistance. Now our teachers don’t have to work under a leaking roof. We now have proper teachers quarters too.”

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Sheetal Deo, who teaches Years Three and Four students, said she was happy that the new building was a major boost, empowering the students and teaching staff.

“We are doing this for our children and their future,” Ms Deo said.

Overcoming painful memories

One of the many students who will be using this new school building is 14-year-old Adilla Raza of Mudu Village.

Still haunted by the memories of TC Winston, she said: “I hope I will never go through anything like Cyclone Winston ever again.”

Recalling the events of that faithful day, Adilla described in detail her experiences.

“It was a Saturday morning at around 11am when we started experiencing strong winds and huge tidal waves,” she said.

“Everyone ran to the village hall and as I looked around all I could hear were the sound of cries and the presence of fear.”

The then 10-year-old ran to safety with her grandmother, her younger brother and a close friend while trying to dodge flying rooftops and objects from her village.

Raised by her grandparents, she said she kept praying for God to save them and wished the entire experience was just a dream.

Another student, 12-year-old Anisi Lesutale also recalled that day, and said she had been blown down by the wind while trying to find shelter at the village hall.

Thirteen-year-old Lavenia Radigeli said she was waist deep when tidal waves started sweeping into the village compound.

Adilla summed up her feelings and that of her fellow students by saying: “Words can’t describe exactly the experience of that day and the months that followed, but all I can say is I never want it to happen again.”

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Follow Food and Safety Act: Health Minister

During a talanoa session at Nakodu Village, an issue was raised requesting to reopen the school kitchen.

Qalivakabau District School manager, Lorima Niumataiwalu, said in the past the school kitchen catered for its students.

In response, Minister of Health and Medical Services, Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete, said kitchens everywhere that were being forced to close by the relevant authorities, were because some had been found not complying with the regulations of the Food and Safety Act.

The Health Minister stressed the importance of safety and food hygiene in schools, restaurants and other food havens. He said those that had closed had to either act to improve to follow the Act’s regulations or accepted the decision to remain closed.

Schools that had their kitchens and canteens closed, encouraged its students to bring their own lunches from home.

Dr Waqainabete also reiterated the importance of following the Food and Safety Act.

Nasau Government stations opened

Prime Minister Bainimarama also opened the Koro District Administration Office, Agriculture Office and Quarters and the Koro Health Centre Quarters.

The project costs was $3,691,000 for the buildings in Nasau, Koro.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport handed over a fiber glass boat, engine and solar freezer each to the village of Navaga and Namacu.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama (third from right), at the opening of the Koro District Administration Office on Koro Island on September 9, 2020. Photo: Office of the Prime Minister

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama (third from right), at the opening of the Koro District Administration Office on Koro Island on September 9, 2020. Photo: Office of the Prime Minister

Edited by Jonathan Bryce

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