September 13 by Varanisese Nasilasila NADI
It was an experience that Lance Corporal Joeli Naivola will not easily forget after being recently released by the Jabhat al-Nusra Front in Syria on Friday morning.
Speaking to the Fiji Sun from Syria, Lance Corporal Naivola described the bond of friendship they had developed with their captors during their two weeks of captivity. He said: “It was very emotional for us to say goodbye; the group (captors) had even cried and thanked us for our friendship,” he said. Lance Corporal Naivola said they were grateful to God for keeping them safe.“For 14 days straight we were just praying and fasting for the captors to change their minds and release us. At first there was very tight surveillance for the first few days, then they came to us and started talking and as days went we started to build our relationship,” he said.
Lance Corporal Naivola said the captors had removed all their weapons and they were just left with their clothes they were wearing for two weeks straight.“We surrendered everything except our clothes; but we kept our faith in God that we would be released. At first they strictly guarded our area but later on they just left us there, trusting us that nothing would happen. We were well fed and no harm was done to us,” Lance Corporal Naivola said.
Meanwhile back in Fiji his family was overwhelmed when they received the good news. Wife Leba Naivola said the children were very happy to speak to their dad early yesterday morning as they left for school.“Their dad called and they all spoke to him, they were really happy to hear that their Dad was okay and that meant a lot to them,” she said.