The home that withstood Cyclone Winston

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Taito’s story

Taito lived in a makeshift tarpaulin house with his wife, two children, mother-in-law and sister-in-law in Fiji.

Their home was not structurally safe to withstand strong winds. Taito recalled that during heavy rains, water would come through the roof and walls and flood their house. Exposure to the elements placed the family at risk, made them feel insecure and also left them vulnerable to illness. This was a grave concern for Taito’s mother-in-law, who was already very ill.

For Taito, it was so important to have a safe and decent home to ensure his children were safe and that his mother-in-law’s health wouldn’t further deteriorate.

Taito before
Taito’s house before

“Having a house is means everything to me and my family. A house that will not let in water is a safe shelter for happiness and hope and it is a dream come true,” said Taito. “A family home will be a very precious place where my children will grow up healthier. My children will be able to do their homework and feel proud. Having a house away from the wind and rain to live in will mean we can all smile knowing we will be safe.”

Last November a team of 17 students from Abbotsleigh traveled to Fiji as part of our Global Village program to help make this dream come true. They spent a week working side-by-side Taito to build a home for his family.

When Cyclone Winston hit on Saturday with gusts of up to 325 kilometres per hour, Taito and his family welcomed others in their village into their home. They huddled together in their home and waited out the storm.

Sadly, while other houses in the vicinity were severely damaged, Taito’s home was still standing and his family and others in the community were safe after seeking shelter in the Habitat-built home.

The Toso Viti team is travelling to Fiji in July. Read more about how you can volunteer and help families in Fiji here.

Please donate today to help others whose homes and lives have been devastated by Cyclone Winston donate

7 thoughts on “The home that withstood Cyclone Winston”

  1. Will you be building housing using Peter Drysdale’s design? Apparently the village built using his housing design was untouched by Cyclone Winston. I would like to donate towards that kind of housing as it’s clearly suitable for the long term.

    1. Hi Margaret,

      Thanks for your comment. In the midst of this disaster, the good news is Habitat-built homes in Fiji have all survived the cyclone and only need minor repairs.

      Habitat for Humanity funded and built 21 houses that used Peter Drysdale’s designs. We are planning to support 5,000 families affected by the disaster with emergency shelter assistance. Funds raised for our emergency appeal will contribute towards the purchase and distribution of post disaster construction materials and community tool kits for the repairs of homes in hard hit areas. For long term recovery and rebuilding plan, we will look to use a combination of designs, influenced by Peter Drysdale’s and the Global Disaster Resilience standards to ensure homes offer families protection in severe weather conditions.

      Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have further questions about our work.

      The Habitat Team

  2. Your work in Fiji and other places is wonderful, not only to people like Taito and his family who directly benefit.
    Could you provide more information about the features of these designs and main issues covered in the Global Resilience standards that your team are looking at for Habitat’s future designs and how they deal with resistance to Force 5 winds?
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Patricia,
      So sorry for our late reply – your comment slipped past us!

      Habitat for Humanity Fiji has several house models, all of which are designed to follow the Minimum Standards of Humanitarian Response of the Sphere Project. The homes are timber framed with cyclone strapping and corrugated iron roofing held in with cyclone roofing screws. The technology is low to no-skill to ensure that homeowners are able to contribute effectively to the construction of their own homes as well as being able to maintain their homes in the future. All homeowners also receive basic construction training during the course of the construction of their homes.

      The Habitat team

  3. I’m from the Republic of Palau. A couple of years back, my island nation was devastated by super typhoons Bopha and Haiyan. A lot of homes were destroyed. I’ve heard of low cost storm proof houses built by Peter Drysdale and I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to find his contact address. If you can help point me in the right direction, it would help a great deal. I believe his house design would benefit a lot of people back in my island.

    1. Hi Michael,
      So sorry to hear about the devastation to your home. Unfortunately we do not have his address. Perhaps the Rotary club he started the project through may have more information?

      Good luck,
      The Habitat team

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