More than 30 bands, solo artistes, dance groups and entertainment industry personalities gather at Sukuna Park in Suva for the Rise Up Fiji appeal concert.
They will sing songs and tell stories of the heroes who selflessly gave their lives to save others from the wrath of Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston.
They will shed tears as they share personal experiences of loved ones lost to the monster storm and of homes and possessions blown away by Severe TC Winston’s roaring winds.
During the 10-hour marathon show, the entertainment industry will also pay tribute to the hundreds of civil servants who have left their families to carry out relief work and assessments in the worst affected areas.
Shout outs will be made to the men and women who have given up time with their loved ones to ensure that those who have lost everything know that we care.
Saturday March 5 will be a celebration.
It will be a celebration of how Fiji unites in the face of adversity and how we gather under the noble banner blue for a common cause.
It will also be a celebration of life, a precious gift from God, and it will be a time for us to reflect on those who lost their lives under tragic circumstances.
When musicians put their hands up to participate in the Rise Up Fiji appeal concert, they do so with an open heart.
Many do not have much but they are willing to share their talents to inspire us all to give what we can for those who have lost everything.
Concert organiser Seru Serevi said he was overcome with emotion by the response from musicians, many of whom were themselves affected by Winston.
“When the Fiji Performing Rights Association put out the word that we wanted to do something for the victims of TC Winston, we thought there might be reservations because the devastation has affected a lot of people,” he shared.
“And a lot of the victims were musicians and their families too.
“So when people like Voqa Ni Delai Dokidoki, Malumu Ni Tobu and Savu Ni Delai Lomai put their hands up to participate, I was amazed because these are all groups from Koro Island, one of the worst hit by Severe TC Winston.
“Dokidoki hail from Nasau, a village that was totally destroyed by the cyclone.”
Dokidoki leader Temo Soko Lote said because his family was directly affected by Severe TC Winston was all the more reason the group had to perform this Saturday.
“We couldn’t say no because other people have lost more than us,” the 38-year-old said.
“All we are asking is for the people of Suva to please come down to Sukuna Park this Saturday and to put whatever they can towards this appeal.
“People out there are without clothes, without a home and some have even lost a grandparent, parent, child or grandchild.
“This appeal is for them and I hope people come to the concert and support this worthy cause.”
Another Fijian son who left our shores for the Land of the Long White Cloud years ago is also making his way back home and will be appearing at the fundraiser.
Renowned singer, songwriter and performer Stevie J Heatley is coming home to bury his father.
But he also said it would be amiss of him not to do his bit for the victims of Severe TC Winston.
“I’m coming home to lay my father to rest,” Heatley shared.
“But deep in my heart, I know he would want me to get up on stage and do my bit for Fiji.
“Dad loved music and used to perform in the late ’50s and ’60s on the local scene and apart from playing for the cyclone victims, I will also be paying tribute to him this Saturday.”
Heatley said he was bringing messages and prayers of hope from the Fijian community in New Zealand.
“Many of them would have loved to be here and in the thick of things helping those in need but they are doing what they can do by raising funds and sending money over to families and friends affected by Severe TC Winston.
“I am looking forward to being back on stage in a land I will always regard as home.
“Everyone in New Zealand is thinking and praying for all those who have lost loved ones and those who have lost possessions and homes.
“They stand with Fiji during this time of pain and I am here to bring their spirit of togetherness at the Rise Up Fiji appeal concert.”
Seru Serevi says the event will combine two elements that bring Fijians together — music and rugby.
“The Las Vegas Sevens will be shown live on a mega screen at the park so that fans do not miss our sevens gladiators in action,” he said.
“This is an alcohol and drug-free event and we are urging families to come out and show their support for Winston’s victims by just being there and by dropping gold coins in the bucket.
“Every single cent that will be collected will go towards the Prime Minister’s Disaster Relief and Rehabilitation Fund.
“We would like to acknowledge the people that are making this concert possible – Suva City Council for giving us Sukuna Park, KPMG & Naiveli & Associates for collecting the cash, Rosie Holidays for transporting our west-based musicians to and from the concert, Grand Pacific Hotel for providing refreshments for the entertainers, Digicel for sponsoring the show, Stage Tech for providing the sound equipment and The Fiji Times for continuing to support local music.”
Bands that are billed to appear this Saturday include Voqa Ni Delai Dokidoki, Leba Boi Yawa E Lomai Nasau, Savu ni Delai Lomai, Inside Out, One2eight, Makare, Rosiloa’s Jim Ratusila and Peter Chong, Kula Kei Uluivuya, Seru Serevi, Saimone Vuatalevu, Via Ni Tebara Serenaders, Malumu Ni Tobu, Cadra Ko Muana, Nasio Domoni, Ronald Jai, Lesaa, Savuto, Elena, Accalewas, Paulini & Jane, Tua and Jed Taylor.
International artistes include Young Davie from the Solomon Islands, Benny from Vanuatu and Stevie J Heatley from New Zealand.
By Felix Chaudhary
The Fiji Times, Thursday, March 03, 2016