Natural Disaster

Visiting & Reaching Cyclone Ravaged Islands Through Trauma Healing Program

Visiting & Reaching Cyclone Ravaged Island in Fiji Through Trauma Healing Program

Corrugated Iron VS Coconut tree during Cyclone Harold’s Impact in Kadavu.
Bible Society Mission team after visiting Kadavu Island for 3 weeks in November, 2020.
After a Trauma Healing Workshop in Nukuvou, Nakasaleka, Kadavu (Fiji Islands).
Distributing Proclaimer Bibles in Kadavu, Fiji.

As the whole world closed its boarders and practiced social distancing, Fiji experienced one of the worst cyclones to hit the islands. Fijians flee to their islands due to corona virus and job losses from urban areas but were met by Cyclone Harold. It was a rude awakening for some as they interpreted the disaster as a punishment from God for their sins, but for Bible Society Fiji Mission, this was an opportune time to bring awareness of the WORD of GOD to them and also conduct Trauma Healing workshops.

The team visited Vatulele island in October 2020. The island is a flat archipelago 40mins away from Coral Coast, Sigatoka. Vatulele has one primary school and Methodism as the only Christian denomination.  It has four villages, Ekubu, Taunovo, Lomanikaya and Bouwaqa, with four teams conducting workshops and free distribution of scriptural materials. The islands main source of income, masi (tapa), was badly damaged from the cyclone.

In the same month of October, Beqa island was visited too. A little bigger than Vatulele, Beqa has eight villages and four schools (three primary schools & one secondary school). Three teams serviced the islands and visited its schools.

Mid November till the first week of December has the Mission team visiting the fourth largest island in Fiji, Kadavu. The island has seventy-five villages and the mission team was divided into five groups. Four teams travelled Kadavu while one team worked on Ono island. Teams spent twenty-four days teaching and ministering in Kadavu and was met with great reception from all the Christian churches on the island.

The teams main workshop were the Trauma Healing workshop and the Bible Society awareness session. They also conducted a number of workshops that is needed like the Translation workshop, the Sunday School Teachers training, the Hermeneutics seminar and staffs that were trained with YWAM, utilized the YWAM BELT material for kids when the need arise.

The trauma healing session was very helpful to most villagers as some carried a lot of hurt and trauma even before the cyclone. The practical exercise on drawing your trauma helped so many in expressing some of the hurt they’ve been carrying for years. Creating a safe space for everyone to speak in was new to most as tradition restricts certain people from public speaking. In some villages, the participatory way of learning challenges the culture of having a traditional spokesperson who speaks for the village.

The Translation workshop is an awareness session about translation work in Fiji and highlighting the Fijian New Version bible. In some places, most people still prefer the old version because they do not know much about the new version. So this prompt us to make awareness on the Fijian New Version bible and highlighting the slight changes on the translation as this will help make clear the gist of what the Word of God is.

Despite the closure of boarders around the whole world and social distancing becoming a new norm, Bible Society is in full swing with missions. People are hungry for the Word in this trying time.

As the year 2020 comes to an end, we are grateful for lessons learnt in visiting and seeing local communities and how they recuperate, months after Cyclone Harold. Even with their circumstances they were still willing to share their food and homes to our mission teams and this is where we can see God’s hands working in the lives of his people and how blessed we are, to do His will.

Special mention to our prayer partners and donors for the support throughout 2020 and we hope and pray that 2021 will allow us to reach those in need in the Pacific.

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Story By Apenisa Lewatoro, BSSP Translation Officer, Port Vila, Vanuatu (4/8/15).

After our first day of checking the North Pentecost’s Hano New Testament project yesterday afternoon at the Bible Society office here in Port Vila, the translator Collinette Siba (nee Gaviga) shared her traumatic experience of Cyclone Pam (in March 2015) without hiding her emotions.

“We lost everything during the cyclone. Both our home and guest house were destroyed as we took refuge in the church. It was really a scary experience! After cyclone Pam left, we discovered there was nothing left. Our property had all gone. There was no water as our water tank pipe was broken. It was a very sorry sight! But my husband Robin just thought of the translation books and Bible and attempted to recover them. He had put all the books and Bible inside a plastic container and placed the container under a small table inside the house. Amazingly, the container and its content were all safe, not even wet. That’s why I’m able to bring them to Port Vila with me this week for the translation checking.”
Collinette has worked tirelessly on the translation of God’s Word into her native Hano language for the last 19 years. Her dad, Anglican priest Fr Mark Gaviga, was part of the review team that had worked on the Four Gospels and later translated Paul’s epistles and other NT books. Her younger sister, Annie, now works as a Translation Clerk at the Bible Society in Port Vila. The Hano New Testament project has struggled to reach the finish line since it started in 1979 (Four Gospels launched in 1988) and has been revived lately with the goal to complete the project by 2016. Contributing to the delay in progress was the lack of supporting funds and its history of the translation books gone missing or severely damaged by past cyclones. This often resulted in Collinette being tasked to re-translate whatever is in the missing manuscripts. Now there are only a few missing chapters and verses that she needs to translate again and the financial support from the United Bible Societies amongst other donors is greatly acknowledged. However, there still exists a real need to practically help Collinette and her family in restoring their lives after all that has been lost.
Apart from the importance of receiving project funds to propel the translation work forward, the life of a translator such as Collinette is also very critical in order to achieve the translation goals. As for Collinette, she’s still living with her husband Robin and their four children under a tent in their North Pentecost village. Drinking water is strictly rationed and all washings are done at sea (about 45 mins walk). They’ve only received food rations twice from the government so far. A friend from abroad has helped bought six roofing iron sheets for their new home. But unfortunately it’s not enough to rebuild their livelihood and get their house back. Please pray for Collinette and other people here in Vanuatu who still goes through deep suffering and pain after Cyclone Pam. And do let the Bible Society near you know if you’d love to give a financial donation specifically for Collinette’s family. This will in turn help speed up the Hano New Testament project, too.

Trauma Healing

And whilst in Port Vila since last Monday, my work plan had changed after listening to some translators’ personal stories about their encounter with Cyclone Pam. This was prior to Collinette’s arrival. My set goals for the two weeks in Vanuatu were primarily to check the scripture comic translations in four languages and work on the Hano NT project. However, after my exposure to the deep hurts and suffering faced, I am currently facilitating an impromptu Trauma Healing seminar for all the translators each morning for two hours before the translation checking. This has helped Collinette and the other
translators to share their experiences in our healing group and find comfort in God though our prayers. The team is also prepared to translate into Bislama (common language of Vanuatu) the Trauma Healing book titled, “Healing the Wounds of Trauma: How the Church Can Help” (by Harriet Hill, Margaret Hill, Richard Bagge, & Pat Miersma). I trust and pray that this scripture booklet, once translated, will be a great tool for the Church to use in the near future in terms of ministering to the many lives that are still deeply traumatized.

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