Fijians Help Save Lives

They helped evacuate elderly residents to safety
02 Mar 2022 13:45
Fijians Help Save Lives
Marika Tabutaci from Tavua carries an elderly woman to safety. Photo: Sydney Morning Herald

When Vilimone Vosalotaki saw residents of an aged-care home trapped by flood waters in Lismore in New South Wales, Australia, he did not waste time going to their rescue.

The prompt reaction of Mr Vosalotaki and 44 other Fijians helped save residents from imminent danger.

The Fijians were divided into two groups; one group went to the evacuation centre to help and the other group went to rescue those at the aged-care home.

These 45 Fijians had arrived in Australia on February 15, to work at an abattoir in the city of Lismore.

They were part of the Pacific Labour Scheme, a programme designed to help the country’s labour shortage due to the pandemic.

“From where we live, we can see the aged-care home and when we realised that the road was flooded we thought of taking a walk to see how it was,” Mr Vosalotaki said.

“When we were near we realised that the aged-care home was flooded and we knew we had to do something to help.

“We did not have a second thought when I heard that there were some elderly people stuck at the aged-care home as flood waters continued to rise.

“When we arrived, there were not many people there and we knew we had to do something before it was too late. We started evacuating them and most of them were bedridden, so we had to carry them all,” he said.

“The thoughts of our elderly in Fiji flashed into my mind and we knew we had to do something to save them.”

Another Fijian, Usaia Vitiliai, said they had no second thoughts when they knew that there were people who needed their help.

“Manpower was needed so we had to carry them through the flood. There was no need for us to be asked to help evacuate the elderlies because we would do the same if we were in Fiji,” Mr Vitiliai said.

“I am glad we arrived on time and we could help when it was really needed.

“Some of us rescued people from on top of their homes or breaking windows to get people out.

“We felt sorry for the old folks because many of them could not walk and we knew we had to carry them all the way to dry land.”

Australia’s High Commissioner to Fiji John Feakes said he wasn’t surprised about the help the Fijians rendered.

“I was not surprised that Fijians helped because they are known to be very helpful people,” Mr Feakes said.

“These are what Fijians always do when our families need assistance and vice versa. The local communities and I are very grateful to them.

“This shows how wonderful Fijian people are and we are thankful for their generosity.”


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