Vatukalo Village on Ovalau Island has a new community centre, the result of efforts by its villagers working with a voluntary crew from Fulton Hogan Hiways Joint Venture (FHHJV), as well as a team from Fulton Hogan.
Vatukalo’s previous centre was lost to Cyclone Winston earlier in the year that also caused major damage to the village.
With a population of around 300 residents, Vatukalo is located one kilometre south of the FHHJV maintenance depot on Ovalau. Now nearing completion, the centre will be used by the villagers for community activities and provide a safe haven should further cyclones occur.
As a number of employees from the FHHJV Levuka Depot are from Vatukalo, FHHJV General Manager Duncan Fraser said getting involved with this project was an opportunity to contribute to the community.
“This has been a humbling experience for us and a privilege to be undertaking this work. It’s only when you get close to the ground that the full impact of the cyclone hits home,” he said.
Fulton Hogan raised more than FJD200,000 for the project. Following Cyclone Winston, a fundraising effort was undertaken by the team and this grew to involving both suppliers and customers. The team raised funds to completely rebuild the community centre as well as funds to assist in the repair of a school on Taveuni.
The Fulton Hogan team was led by its Asphalt Department Estimating Manager, Kerry Earl, ably supported by carpenters, Kenny Brown and Manu Vailahi, and Project Assistant, Karen Shepherd. In addition, 20 FHHJV personnel were also involved and worked on alternating shifts, with a number also travelling from Suva to help with the rebuild.
Speaking on behalf of the village chief, Luke Sikiveta said that the villagers of Vatukalo were grateful and fortunate to be assisted by both teams from FHHJV and Fulton Hogan.