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It’s not quite 9am and already the temperature is close to 30 degrees. There’s an inviting sandy beach only metres away, but Red Cross volunteer Josevata Laqere is focused on his work.
Josevata and his Fiji Red Cross workmates are rebuilding a house in Nukubalavu, a seaside village on the northern island of Vanua Levu. Of the 62 houses in the village, only three were left unscathed when Tropical Cyclone Winston tore across Fiji in February 2016.
Fiji Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) are working with communities like Nukubalavu to help them rebuild homes safer and better able to withstand future cyclones.
Josevata has been volunteering with Fiji Red Cross for a year. When he saw the destruction caused by Tropical Cyclone Winston, he knew he had to help. Naila, his village near Suva, escaped the full force of the cyclone, so he volunteered with Red Cross to provide support in the hardest hit areas, he says.
“I wanted to help the people affected. That’s what Red Cross is – helping vulnerable people.”
So far, his work with Red Cross has included distributing relief items to affected villages and sharing health and hygiene messaging – an important safety precaution when water and sanitation infrastructure is damaged after a natural disaster.
The house at Nukubalavu is the first Red Cross rebuild he has worked on. Being part of the construction team, which allows him to use his previous building experience, is extremely rewarding, he says.
“I enjoy working with these guys, helping these vulnerable people. It’s good.”