Pure Water for Fiji Flood Victims
In a small ceremony earlier this month on Fiji's Denarau Island, Prem Rawat formally presented officials representing the nonprofit Empower Pacific (EP) with a donation to help ease some of the worst effects of major flooding in this small nation.
"One thing that we as human beings can do," he said "is try to alleviate the suffering that is caused fellow human beings by natural occurrences. I really hope this is going to help those people who are in need and that TPRF will continue to function in this unique little spot."
The donation, Prem Rawat said, represents "the goodwill and good wishes of many. I think that there are enough people on the face of this Earth who hold dear the perspective of having, for fellow human beings, the idea of peace, the idea of dignity, the idea of prosperity. Those are the people who can make a difference."
Last spring, it began to rain in Nadi, one of the most heavily populated areas of Fiji's main island. A wall of water rushed down from the surrounding mountains. Flash floods caused the river Viti Levu to overflow its banks. Within minutes, everything low-lying was washed away.
The residents of Nadi's villages earn an average $80-$100 (US$45-$56) a week. With a little subsistence farming, they get by. But when those crops were swept away along with everything they owned, they had no resources to help them recover.
The irony for flood victims is that potable water becomes one of their most pressing needs. Waterborne diseases such as typhoid mete out further destruction.
TPRF partnered with EP to finance the purchase of water filters that will give an estimated 1,000 families long-term access to affordable, purified drinking water. An NGO based in Australia, EP provides counseling and support services across twelve Pacific Island countries and territories. TPRF has made 21 grants to help those suffering from severe flooding in 11 nations.
EP Program Manager Kim Tilbury said the filters will be distributed to "family homes assessed as high-need based on their proximity to flood areas where there is high disease risk from contaminated water."
The program will also provide one or more families with a stable, ongoing source of income, she said, in the form of an autonomous small business that will supply water-filter replacement cartridges, which are otherwise not available in Fiji.
"These filters are replaceable very easily at a small cost," Tilbury said. "Once families have the initial unit, they are linked up with our small-business client to purchase a replacement filter annually. The unit itself does not have a shelf life."
TPRF President Linda Pascotto said that the partnership with Empower Pacific will help TPRF effectively provide emergency assistance to the area in the future. "We haven’t had a really good partner—until now!—in this area of the Pacific," she said. "TPRF relies on its partners to be ready if needed in times of disaster, so that they can act quickly, and we can work together to save lives and help alleviate what would be an even worse situation."
"A big vinaka vaka levu [thank you] to The Prem Rawat Foundation for their kind donation and support to Empower Pacific and the people of Fiji," said EP representative Sailesh Kumar. "It will surely make a difference in the lives of many."