One year on from Fiji's Cyclone Winston
Supporting Fiji through Oxfam and the Deloitte Foundation
The Deloitte Foundation’s partnership with Oxfam enables our people to donate to alleviate suffering in emergency situations worldwide.
In February 2016, Rajnil Kumar and his wife, Sangeeta, watched Cyclone Winston, the most powerful storm to ever make landfall in the southern hemisphere, wreak its devastation in Fiji. Both Rajnil and Sangeeta are originally from Fiji and their family still live there.
Rajnil recalls their fears: “Houses in Fiji are very old and not built to withstand a cyclone of this strength. We had been through Cyclone Kina in 1992. I still remember clearly how my siblings and I spent a whole night under a bed and our parents were under the table. It was terrifying. So we could visualise how serious Winston could be. I felt helpless. My wife and I didn’t sleep at all the first night.”
As he watched and waited for news, he experienced what would be familiar feelings to most of us faced with disasters of this scale. Shock, fear, helplessness.
And most powerfully, he felt the urge to do something. After nearly five days he finally got word that his parents were OK. But with that good news came the harsh reality – their house, and thousands more, were damaged, schools destroyed, significant amount of crops ruined. Fiji needed help.
As a Deloitte employee, Ranjil, knew that the Deloitte Foundation were an option to assist him in supporting his desire to help, so he contacted them. The Foundation has had a partnership with Oxfam since 1999, and through that relationship, regularly runs campaigns within Deloitte for employees to contribute to Oxfam’s emergency fundraising appeals.
He explains: “I didn’t think it would be easy but I felt I should at least try. The foundation’s reply was prompt. I thought, ‘Someone is listening.”
By March, the Foundation had established a campaign to appeal to all Deloitte employees. Deloitte people gave $5,000 within the first five hours. This grew to a total of $23,623, which was distributed through Oxfam’s relief efforts on the ground in Fiji.
Ranjil says the response of Deloitte, both through the Foundation’s quick response and the generosity of his colleagues, surpassed all his expectations.
“It really made me feel like I was a part of a bigger community of people who care – and care big. I have worked at Deloitte for nearly six years and moments like this continue to define my purpose for being part of this organisation. This response to Cyclone Winston has further strengthened my connection to the firm. I’m very proud to be part of an organisation that has shown support, above and beyond, for people in need.”
Ranjil returned to Fiji in August 2016 for the first time since Winston. He confirmed a lot of devastation remains. The students at his old school have makeshift classrooms in hot tents, which is not the best environment. But, he says, Fiji is a resilient place. People are moving on. With the continued support of friends like Deloitte and Oxfam in Australia, those affected by Cyclone Winston will rebuild their lives. But it will take time.
Oxfam's work in Fiji
Tropical Cyclone Winston killed 43 people and destroyed an estimated 32,000 houses, leaving 150,000 people in need of shelter. The cyclone also destroyed water systems, leaving 250,000 people in urgent need of clean water. Many families continue to be dependent on dirty and unprotected water sources.
Oxfam has been working with local partners to give communities access to clean drinking water, and provide sanitation and hygiene products, in an attempt to prevent the spread of disease.
Donate to the Oxfam emergency relief fund. All donations are greatly appreciated.
Oxfam and Deloitte
Partnering with community and charity organisations is one of the ways Deloitte tries to work with purpose, to make an impact that matters. Since 1999, Deloitte has worked with Oxfam to make a positive and enduring impact through its work to address complex world problems caused by, or arising from, poverty.
Oxfam’s work includes responding to emergencies, ensuring people’s right to be heard, empowering women, addressing climate change and ensuring a fair sharing of prosperity and resources. We are a principal partner of the annual fundraising Trailwalker event. Our work with Oxfam also includes workplace giving, pro bono, emergency appeals and volunteering. Since 1999 the value of our contributions has exceeded $3 million. Discover more in our Responsible Business Report.