You may be wondering what's news in Fiji. There are now 16 confirmed cases of the corona-virus in this part of the Pacific. The government has been able to determine that the virus entered the country through two main sources.
The first source was from a flight attendant (from Lautoka, north of Nadi) and the second source is from a gentleman who travelled to India, and returned to Fiji via Singapore. The government has since put Suva, Lautoka and Labasa in lockdown, and nationwide, there is a curfew from 8 pm to 5 am.
When the first corona-virus case was confirmed by the government, the Pacific Regional Seminary immediately went into lockdown, including all the affiliated colleges (that is, the Columbans, MSC's, Picpus Fathers, Vincentians, SM, SMSM's and SDB's). So we are now confined to Lot 4 Buabua Place (Nakasi) and, grateful that we are still able to go for a run or walk as long as the safe distance is observed.
For three weeks now, we have been having classes online. The week before the lockdown, the lecturers were given special workshops on how to teach online... but it is taking me a while to get used to it. How true the old saying, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks."
While the brothers are coping well with their online classes, they also commented that with this online teaching they have more assignments than when they have normal classes. Often, the students and lecturers have to put up with poor (or, at times, no) internet connections and/or frequent power cuts.
Whilst the younger Salesians have managed to adjust to online leraning, poor infrastructure is still making study very difficult.
To add excitement to these already exciting times, a category 4 cyclone Harold, after devastating the islands of Vanuatu, passed by Fiji and left a trail of damage. Around 4 am on Thursday 9th of April, there was an incredibly loud roar as the strong winds snapped branches off branches and uprooted trees, it shook the buildings, blew away the roofs of houses and destroyed many homes.
It was a very frightening moment. Thank God, all the confreres are safe and the damage is minor. Two days of clean up followed, and, until Saturday night, we were without any power.
Fr. Mika Leilua is patiently overseeing the daily progress at the building site. With the current restrictions on the workforce, the number of workers at the site is reduced to 20 plus the foreman.
Work on the project was progressing slowly... now, the progress is even slower. But, we live in hope! A big thank you to Fr. Mika for his dedication to the parish and his great work on supervising the project.
Bro. Michael Harris was in isolation the moment he arrived in Suva on 23 March). Now that he has completed his "special Retreat," Michael is able to get around and settle into his role as bursar of the community.
We had our Holy Week services in the community and used the adapted versions for Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil celebrations. Even our Easter celebrations were subdued.