In chorus for relief

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Will Singer (author), POIS Yuri Ramsey (photographer)

Location(s): Koro Island, Fiji

Royal Australian Navy Chaplain Max Walker from HMAS Canberra greets the congregation on the conclusion of a church service held at Nasau, Koro Island, Fiji. (photo: POIS Yuri Ramsey)
Royal Australian Navy Chaplain Max Walker from HMAS Canberra greets the congregation on the conclusion of a church service held at Nasau, Koro Island, Fiji.

Australian Defence Force personnel deployed to Fiji in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Winston took time out from relief operations to attend a service at the Methodist Church in Nasau on Koro Island, Fiji on 6 March.

Joining local villagers, Royal Australian Navy Chaplain Max Walker held a sermon in the village which had survived the damaging winds of the cyclone.

Service peronnel gathered for the service, joined in chorus with the congregation, singing hymns in English while the residents of Nasau sang in Fijian.
 
Outside the sound of drills and hammers could be heard as engineers from the Australian Army’s 2nd Combat Engineer Regiment and Republic of Fiji Military Forces, continued to add roofs to dwellings.

After the sermon, the chief steward of the church said a special thank you to the Australian guests for their assistance to the Fijian people during this time.

The visiting personnel were chaperoned to a covered area, where they sat with the villagers and listened to their personal experiences and fight for survival.

Chaplain Walker said despite questioning the reason why Tropical Cyclone Winston came through their island, their spirit remained unbroken.

“The Fijians belong to a church of strong Christian faith,” Chaplain Walker said.

“Despite trying to come to terms with destruction, they are happy.”
 
One of the Navy's new amphibious ships, HMAS Canberra, is currently deployed to Fiji in support of the relief effort - Operation FIJI ASSIST.

Canberra’s Senior Medical Officer, Commander Ross Mills said the opportunity to be part of the Nasau’s congregation for the morning, and see the smiles on the villagers' faces was confirmation of the great work being done.

“It is an honour and a privilege to be of service to the Fijian people and a blessing to be in Fiji,” he said.