Asaeli Matanitoakula with his children inside his rebuilt home after Hurricane Tomas
LIKE other victims of Hurricane Tomas, Asaeli Matanitoakula lost everything in the disaster -- from his six children's clothes to their home at Matanadrave settlement in Tunuloa, Cakaudrove.
Disturbed by the natural disaster, Asaeli moved his family to a relative's home a week after Tomas left our shores but that didn't keep him from getting on with life.
Picking up the pieces, Asaeli built a new home for his wife and children from the remains of his old home, which was taken down by Tomas on the eve of March 14.
With broken pieces of wood and roofing iron, Asaeli nailed the pieces together -- joining them to make longer pieces of wood to help rebuild his home.
In Fijian, he softly said: "Au sa tara ga na neitou vale baleta na bula ni noqu matavuvale e bibi cake mai na waraka tiko na veivuke (I have just moved on with life because my family's life is more important then waiting for help)."
Asaeli, whose wife is sickly, said he had no choice but to build his new home because he needed to provide shelter for his family.
Being a victim of such a loss is not an easy experience as he explained the heartbreak he endured -- seeing his children standing homeless outside their devastated home.
"E dua na ka mosimosi, ia au sa vakaukauwa ga me'u tara tale na neitou vale vakamatavuvale baleta me rawa kina na toso (It is such a painful experience but I had to gather the strength to rebuild our lives and move on).
"Meda raica na luveda, mera duri tu e tuba ka davo tu na vale e dakudra e a kauta ga mai na tagi, ia au vakavinavinakataka na Kalou ena nona veitaqomaki (For us to see our children standing outside their fallen house only brings tears to our eyes but I thank God for his protection," Asaeli said.
Three weeks after Hurricane Tomas struck parts of Cakaudrove in the north and islands in the Lau Group, Asaeli built a one-bedroom home for his family.
He also built a kitchen adjacent to the house with materials he could find.
His old home had three bedrooms with a spacious kitchen inside.
But that has not affected Asaeli, who believes that self reliance and independence help bring a better tomorrow.
He said that because of his strong belief in always looking forward to a better tomorrow, his life has not been badly affected by Tomas.
Instead he has taken the hurricane as a way of improving his building skills to provide his family with a better home.