Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Resourcing chaplaincy for Fiji’s recovery

Photo: Georgie Adams Photography Photo: Georgie Adams Photography

Fifty-five people have attended a disaster recovery chaplaincy workshop in the Fijian capital Suva hosted by UnitingWorld and the Assembly’s National Disaster Recovery Officer.

UCA church partners from the Methodist Church in Fiji and ecumenical friends from the Fijian Council of Churches joined the workshop, convened to assist those caring for people who have lost loved ones, homes and whole communities in Cyclone Winston.

The workshop led by Rev. Drs Stephen Robinson and Cliff Bird focused on how to care for traumatised people in times of need, supporting ministers so they avoid compassion fatigue and burnout.

Winston, the strongest storm ever recorded in the Southern Hemisphere made landfall in Fiji on 20 February, flattening entire villages with torrential rain, storm surges and wind gusts of up to 325 km/h.

More than 40 people were killed and thousands of homes damaged.

Hospitals, schools, crops, livestock and water supplies have been hit hard and thousands of Fijians are still living in evacuation shelters.

After the first day of the workshop, one minister spoke of seven churches in his area wiped out by the storm surge of the cyclone. Rev. Dr Robinson spent some extra time with the most affected groups, which he says was very valuable to share in their personal experiences.

“It means a great deal to the church here that others are holding them in their prayers at the moment,” he said.

Participants described the workshop as ‘worthwhile’ and ‘well-timed’..

UnitingWorld National Director Rob Floyd says helping establish a well-trained ecumenical chaplaincy network in Fiji is an important task in the months ahead.

“Ministers and other church leaders, women and men, are the ones who are in place in the community picking up the pieces long after the first responders have left.”

“We will work with our partner church the Methodist Church in Fiji to resource this crucial work going forward.

“In the meanwhile UnitingWorld’s Fiji Emergency Appeal continues and any support is greatly appreciated,” said Mr Floyd.