Julia Edwards writes from Nabuna Village, Fiji, as they respond to flooding risks increased by climate change.
Naomi Navica-Soga, 37, is a lecturer at Tavua College and resident of Nabuna Village in Northern Vitilevu. She moved to Nabuna 16 years ago when she married and she now has five children.
When she first arrived in the village, flooding was infrequent and when it did occur she thought it was funny because she is from the interior and had not experienced flooding before. However, the flooding has become more frequent and Naomi realises that it is a serious risk to her family.
“During the flood my first priority is my children and to take them to the safety of the evacuation centre. But the evacuation centre is over a kilometre away and so, by the time I return from taking my children, if I can save some of my belongings, I will be lucky. Otherwise, we just have to take some sleeping stuff and foods – whatever we need at the evacuation centre.”
One of the biggest floods occurred in 2012 when a boat was used for the first time to take villagers to the evacuation centre; it went house-to-house collecting people. At that time, Naomi managed to stay at her in-laws’ which is on higher ground away from the flood. But when she took her children back to see the state of their flooded home, one of her daughters saw her suitcase, containing all her personal belongings, floating in the flood water and she started to cry.
“After any flood, there is always a big task. The house needs to be cleaned as there is about 2 inches of mud, but immediately after the flood there is no water supply. Everything smells and there is lots of sickness – eye infections and skin diseases – so we try our best to keep our children inside.”
“Because of climate change” Naomi said, “the situation is getting worse and we are telling surrounding villages that we have to do something.” So, Naomi and her husband have decided to build a two-storey home, using an advancement on her pension contribution. Many in the village do not have this option, however.
Semaema Gaugau, 59, a widower of Nabuna village, who receives State aid because of her circumstances, said: “Read, read, read the Bible and pray, pray, pray. God is the provider and He has put us here for a purpose…”.
We invite you to respond in prayer:
God of Justice and Peace,
We are sorry for where our behaviour has damaged your wondrous creation,
and continues to damage the lives of those you love.
We recognise that we have played a part in this,
and that we have a responsibility to respond in our actions and beliefs.
In your gracious love, help us on this journey of realisation, repentance and restoration,
that we might celebrate the hope of reconciliation you offer
in the promise that you will restore all creation to yourself.
In the name of Jesus Christ we pray,
Sunday 2 June is Environment Sunday.
On June 26, a mass lobby of parliament will be taking place to say ‘The Time is Now’ for action on the climate emergency. Join Christian Aid and others as we raise our voices for climate justice. Find out more here.
With thanks to Julia Edwards, Pacific Coordinator for The Methodist Church Global Relationships Team.