I joined the CSR Mercy Mission to Taveuni.
I was privileged to be part of the CSR Mercy Mission Team that embarked on relief efforts to our 2 Estates, Salialevu and Ura, on the Island of Taveuni from the 29 February to 7th March. These were 2 of the worst affected areas by the Tropical Cyclone Winston that hit the Fiji Islands on the 20th February 2016. I was part of a group of 12 volunteers, mainly made up of Engineering staff led by our Resident Manager, Mr Udo. Accompanying us on this mission was Ms Tara Hammond, our Shangri-La International Hotel Management CSR Area Manager. We took with us aid provided by the resort including mattresses, linen and bath towels, food supplies, cartons of water, and hardware for repair works. Our team of 12 was divided into 2 groups, one would focus on Ura Estate and the other on Salialevu. I was in the Salialevu group, which was more affected than Ura.
It took us 40mins to travel from Taveuni town to the estate. After reaching the estate, we had to cross the stream which we only could do so during low tide hours. Upon arrival we were briefed by the Estate Manager on the current situation and the urgent work that had to be done. Each morning, we were waken up by the sound of a bell at 6.30am. I was surprised by the bell as this was my first experience of life at the estate. After breakfast, we worked on cleaning the Managers Residence and fallen trees that were blocking the road. After that, we worked at the school. During our journey, I could feel and experience how people here felt with the devastation all around us. The school buildings were badly damaged so the first thing we did was to clear debris and damaged roofs, and dismantle damaged classrooms. This would make it easier for the next relief team in the rebuilding phase. Our third task was to assist with the staff quarters which were a similar exercise to the school. Due to the cyclone, there was no electricity and network in the estate for us to communicate with our families.
My experience of this mission was an emotional one. Upon departing Taveuni, I was moved with tears by the overwhelming support of families and nearby village members who came in numbers to farewell us. The fruits of our hard work could only be seen with the appreciation from the large crowd, and amongst them, the managers of the Estates were so thankful and grateful for our efforts. I felt we truly portrayed our Shangri-La core values in the works we did, as well as, what we stood for in our mission, “One Team One Way”. Vinaka (Thank you).
Service Associate- Grounds Department, Engineering Division at Shangri-La’s Fiji Resort & Spa, Yanuca Island