Cyclone Winston Relief

Update posted by Kylie Zhong On May 09, 2016

My time volunteering in Fiji came to an end a few weeks ago, but I keep thinking about the beautiful country and the beautiful people I was lucky enough to meet.

Huge thank you to Pariza, Kim, Nick, Amanda, Trish and Athol, Sarah, Cameron, Sianne, Veina, Anne-Marie, Chris, Ed and Jasmine, Kate, as well as anonymous persons, for your support in donations and for your kind words of encouragement. With all your help, we were able to donate an epic total of AU$1070 (including some medical supplies) to Treasure Orphanage in Nadi, Visesei Medical Centre of Visesei Village, and the Lautoka Branch of Fiji Red Cross.

In addition, big thank you to Danielle of Elder St Pharmacy (Newcastle) who donated a box of eye ointment - at a crucial time when the all of Fiji was out of ointment and every second person on some of the islands had conjunctivitis. There were some reports of whole communities sharing one bottle of eye drops!

So what did I gain from this experience, and what did the people of Fiji gain?

I learnt...
- that wearing a set of scrubs in the tropics is a fairly uncomfortable experience
- that some people can not have very much and/or have lost it all yet still maintain a positive outlook on life
- you may expect to be useful in one way, yet make a difference through many other means along the journey
- about tropical infections, diseases; and medicine and strategies for minimising mosquito-related disease
- that I can be in a Dengue house and be bitten by a mosquito, yet not contract Dengue (winning)
- how to play epic card games like President and Trop Ten, and how to play Booooo!!
- how to efficiently dry, sort, and fold clothing for 23 children, and that all children, no matter what age, love to be read to
- not all dogs want to be my friends
- that kava doesn't taste... amazing
- if you have enough hands on deck, you can definitely move several mountains of stock
- that Fijian people are incredibly kind, generous, welcoming and other-centred

What Fiji gained…
- A junior doctor in the field who was very good at doing blood pressure checks, dressing basic wounds, and referring to the hospital
- conjunctivitis eye ointment
- well-wishes and donations from Australian brothers and sisters from across the Pacific
- a sympathetic ear when locals and villagers told me about their life, their roots, and the impact of recent natural disasters and current politics
- some cringe-worthy dance moves when I cut shapes on the DFloor
- and a friend for life

If you are ever interested in a similar volunteering experience, please feel free to chat to me. You’ll need to get used to Fiji time first ;-)

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Update posted by Kylie Zhong On Apr 06, 2016

The storms have passed! Tropical Cyclone Zena was upgraded to category 3 before downgrading and slowly moving away. The alerts for further heavy rains and floods have been cancelled. The curfew has been lifted.

Currently there are 6400 evacuees in evacuation centres. At least 2 people have passed away - a 70 year old gentleman who went outside on the first night of heavy rains, and a 19 year old woman who was swept away while trying to cross the current.

Yesterday I went to the orphanage to help care for the children, because of school closures and there was no way to get to the Red Cross base due to roads and buses being closed. Today I am going to the orphanage again, this time to help with some work for people affected by the floods.

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Update posted by Kylie Zhong On Apr 05, 2016

Tropical Cyclone Zena has now been upgraded to Category Two. The main damage will be the continued heavy rains and increasing flood waters. All over Fiji - towns, villages, schools, homes, businesses, roads, and farms are affected.

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Update posted by Kylie Zhong On Apr 05, 2016

Today, we learnt and taught each other about Dengue fever and Leptospirosis. The incidence of these diseases will likely increase in the period following the current flood so it's important that we're able to educate people in affected areas. With some excellent group work, I gave a small presentation about some strategies to prevent the spread of Dengue fever. Which is funny because despite my best efforts, the mosquitoes here are loving me and my arm is aching from them.

I also did a home visit (and sat in on a follow up hospital appointment) for patients who have recently had amputations because of diabetes related vasculopathy. The onset of complications of non-communicable diseases seems to be quite early.

The weather is continuing, with a new tropical depression TD16F merging with TD14F and now a high chance it will become a tropical cyclone. However it is not likely to make landfall but the associated heavy rain will worsen flood conditions. Tomorrow, supplies will arrive from Suva so we can start distributing them to those in need of assistance.

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Update posted by Kylie Zhong On Apr 04, 2016

So you know how I'm in Fiji to help after Cyclone Winston... Well, turns out there may be a more immediate crisis impacting the area. There are two tropical lows near Fiji now (TD14F and TD15F), meaning crazy winds (80+ kph) and 200mm of rain in the past 24 hours. Areas including farms and homes are already flooding, roads are under water, people are wading waist deep. Many shops and businesses including the medical centre are closed for the safety of their workers. Locals say this happens about once per year. There are no named tropical cyclones yet, there is a moderate chance that one of these systems will upgrade to one. This is bad because there are people and families in Rakiraki and other areas that are living in tents after the cyclone, and now need to move again and sleep in an already cramped evacuation centre. After packaging some emergency packs with Fiji Red Cross today, there is no more work to be done until the weather gets better and further damage can be assessed in order to direct efforts.

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Update posted by Kylie Zhong On Apr 02, 2016

Thank you everyone so much for your kind words of encouragement and your donations so far ✨🌟🎉💗🙏😊🐶 I land in Nadi tonight, getting briefed tomorrow, and starting Monday!

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Update posted by Kylie Zhong On Mar 31, 2016

I have just heard that they would now be happy to accept any type of donations in terms of medical supplies!

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Update posted by Kylie Zhong On Mar 30, 2016

Less than a week to go! Okay, 2 days to go. I'm feeling nervous and excited.

Super kudos to Kim, Pariza, Nick, and Amanda for donating!!

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Backed On Apr 19, 2016 Amount Hidden


Good going Kylie!


Backed with $25.00 On Apr 03, 2016


Cameron Rienstra

Backed with $50.00 On Apr 02, 2016


Great to see you using your time off in such a great way!


Backed with $100.00 On Apr 01, 2016


You're amazing :) But we already knew this since always, miss; voted "Most likely to end world poverty". Very proud xo

Amanda Zhou

Backed with $25.00 On Mar 27, 2016


Go Kylie :-)

Nick Ferguson

Backed with $50.00 On Mar 21, 2016



Backed On Mar 20, 2016 Amount Hidden

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Kylie Zhong

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