The horrific extent of the damage to remote islands and villages in Fiji caused by Cyclone Winston is becoming all too clear.
Relief organisations and funds are gearing up to help but, from a distance, it's often hard to know what we, as concerned individuals, might be able to do to help.
Well, there is a wonderful organisation called Sea Mercy http://www.seamercy.org/ which operates in the Pacific and uses volunteering yachts to deliver medical and practical aid in places where, often, the 'big' agencies just can't reach. Last year our friends Staffan and Elinor on Salsa and Brian and Sue on Darramy joined the effort following the cyclone in Vanuatu and did amazing, inspiring things to help the remote villagers there.
This year, already, Sea Mercy is in action in Fiji and several yachts that were in Fiji during the cyclone and escaped damage are delivering much needed supplies to places that had seen no outside help for almost a week. More yachts will sail up to Fiji once the cyclone season is officially ended (1st April) but, in the meantime, Sea Mercy are appealing for financial donations to continue with the small but hard-working team that they have already in place. Their immediate focus is to supply food, clothing, cooking utensils and temporary shelters to small communities flattened by the storm but they will then move on to longer-term medical care and re-building projects.
Their daily update blog is very informative - here's a good example from a couple of days ago: http://seamercyupdates.blogspot.co.nz/2016/03/sea-mercy-loading-supplies-for-taveuni.html
The Cyclone story has already dropped out of the media spotlight but the challenge for Fiji will remain for many months. We were relieved to hear that our friends in Fulaga were spared but other places we visited and loved are now disaster zones. There is a 'Donate' button on the Sea Mercy blog and funds will go straight to the place where they are needed with no big-organisation overheads to be covered. So if you can help in any way, please do.