A Wellington lawyer has launched a public appeal for a broad range of donated goods to help the cyclone-hit residents of Fiji.
“They’ve got absolutely nothing,” Kamil Lakshman, who moved to New Zealand from Fiji in 1983, said.
She hopes to fill a shipping container by March 7, when it will be sent by rail to Tauranga and loaded on a ship bound for Fiji on March 12.
“As you know, Cyclone Winston has caused mass destruction in certain parts of Fiji and a great many people have lost their possessions, and are struggling to meet their day-to-day basic needs,” she said on Sunday. She has mobilised many fellow Fijian expats in Wellington to help with the appeal, which is her third humanitarian effort on behalf of her former homeland.
“It’s a humane response. Fiji is a tiny place and is very vulnerable.
“Everyone knows there is a disaster, but most people don’t know there is something like this that people can put something in.”
Her first appeal was in 2009, when floods hit Fiji while she was in the country. “It was horrifying to see these houses submerged in water.”
At the time, she developed a relationship with a non-government organisation in Fiji, the Ramakrishna Mission, which distributed the donated goods once they arrived.
In 2012, she organised a second container of donated goods after another flood caused widespread damage.
For the current appeal, all types of non-perishables are needed, including clothing, food, medical supplies, water purification tablets, stationery, books, vegetable seeds and kitchenware. The mission will again distribute them.
She said there were various dropoff points around the city, including New World Churton Park, 300 Main Rd in Tawa, and 1 Owaka Close in Kelson, Lower Hutt.
The container is at 94 Britomart St in Berhampore, where donated goods can also be accepted.
Lakshman said she was also organising pickup trucks to collect donated items. People could contact her for more information on 021 1598803, or Anil Dutt on 027 6830077.
Meanwhile, the New Zealand Defence Force ship HMNZS Wellington has arrived in Fiji, with about 60 tonnies of aid supplies, and 71 military personnel to help with relief efforts.
The ship arrived in Suva on Sunday morning, and will head out to the northern Lau group of islands after refuelling and loading more food supplies.