The classrooms at Lovo Sangham School north of Nadi should be brimming with children taking lessons.

Instead they are packed with families displaced by Cyclone Winston. Mothers, fathers, babies and the elderly are crammed into the stifling rooms at the makeshift evacuation centre, with whatever possessions they could salvage as the wind and rain battered their homes.

Families forced to live together in a classroom at Lovu Seaside School after their homes were destroyed after cyclone Winston hit Fiji. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Families forced to live together in a classroom at Lovu Seaside School after their homes were destroyed after cyclone Winston hit Fiji. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Most have come from the hilly area of Lovo, a couple of kilometres from the beach. When the wind picked up they fled as the rain came, before it flooded them out.

In one room the Herald visited, four different families are living together. It's humid, the floor covered only by a tarp and one wall piled high with furniture, mattresses and anything else they could carry from their homes.

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A policewoman stationed at the centre said that on Sunday morning there were three classrooms in use, with about 16 families. Yesterday, all of the classrooms were full.

"They have to eat whatever they can provide for themselves now, the food here is gone," the policewoman says.

In the room with four families, a woman is bathing her toddler, using water from a bottle, and a cloth.

The children in the room look tired, exhausted even.

They, like their parents and grandparents, are hungry and don't know when their next meal is coming nor if there will be any fresh water to drink. They just want to go home, one little boy said.

Another woman, with four children, told the Herald she wanted to go home and start cleaning up.

No one has given any thought to leaving the cyclone-ravaged area and going somewhere safer. They just want to get back, clean up and start again.

How to donate

• Red Cross: redcross.org.nz
• Tear Fund: tearfund.org.nz
• World Vision: worldvision.org.nz
• Unicef: unicef.org.nz
• Oxfam: oxfam.org.nz
• Habitat for Humanity: www.habitat.org.nz