Greetings to you all, wherever you are!
By now I suppose, you should all learn of the tragedy in Tonga. This would be the biggest loss over Tonga waters , second to the lost of the Tokomea in the 70's. The fate of the 62 people believed to be trapped underwater is destined for God's mercy. Everyone here in Fiji knows that the Princess Ashika was supposed to be rested or put into a museum. Why the boat was sold or bought by the company in Tonga is anyone's guess. It sounded like a bandaid efforts to the long term problems of finding proper and safer transportations between the islands of Tonga.
The boat Ashika was our main transport between Levuka and Suva. My rugby teams and students used her frequently for travel until she was declared "unsafe and life-threat" last year. I know every bit of that boat since I used to travel on her from Taveuni to Suva 15 years ago!
The loss of the 62 people, even though the rescue attempts are still undergoing to salvage the boat, is a major tragedy for Tonga and the Pacific. It's a timely reminder that the force of nature cannot be taken lightly. The threat of global warming teaches us a clear lesson. We need to upgrade our transportation system. Gone are the days that we can get into any means of transport, boat, vehicles, or planes, before ensuring that they are safe. Gone also are the days that we can readily accept any gifts or items from overseas thinking that they are safe.
While we can lament this titanic loss, we must make sure that this kind of national tragedy won't happen again. It's no time to point our fingers at anybody. it's no time to judge nor condemn. It's a time to feel and mourn with families of the victims. It's the time to pray for souls of the victims if they will be discovered, dead or alive. It's the time to pray also for the nation, for the leaders and all the people of Tonga.
Such tragedy can unite people to be stronger in their faith. It's my prayer that God's mercy and grace be shared abundantly by all the people of Tonga and the Pacific. Certainly this chapter will be written in the history of our nation as a "Patch of Dark Cloud Hovering Over the Friendly Isles!"
I have written to the Prime Minister conveying our deepest sympathy to him, the leaders, and the people of Tonga. Masses and prayers have been offered here at the school. The students feel for him since they come to know and love him when he was present for the school's Reunion & Bazaar.
I called home to Maliana just to ensure that none in the family or relatives was on the boat. They seem to be coping well with the disaster but all felt paralysed by it all.
Please keep up the prayers for the 62 still unaccounted for. May our faith in God be a source of strength and comfort at this most difficult time.
'Ofa atu & hufaki,