“After the first explosion, we knew what is coming next, everyone rushed to the mountain; after the 2nd explosion the whole population is on the mountain. We started singing hymns and songs and we prayed as the night fall. We have no time to worry and listen to the destruction of the whole island by the tidal waves” – resident of Fonoi island.
As communication with Tonga gets a little easier, we continue to hear reports of the damage caused by the Volcanic explosion on Saturday 15th January 2022. We’ve heard stories of trauma and loss faced by those who relocated to Tongatapu, and those who were visited by chaplains from the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga (FWCT). There is extensive damage to homes, churches, hospitals, schools and other property and possessions. Thankfully only three people lost their lives. Destruction of boats, roads, wharves, internet cable, airports, cars and trucks mean that reaching those affected has not been easy. People must line up for an hour of internet access, and so information comes to us in snippets and phone calls happen whenever folks are available. COVID-19 is now in Tonga, adding further stress and the resulting lockdown has restricted movement.
What is being done to assist people?
The Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga “Tekina ‘I Moana” initiative is the disaster management and recovery arm of the church, and has been busy packing and distributing care packages for affected people.
- They have done rapid needs assessments in affected villages, and developed a three-staged approach to recovery. They will respond, reconnect and rebuild.
- They’ve already visited eight villages to distribute water, food, clothes and provide counselling.
- Within the next two months they plan to provide larger items – tents, temporary mobile toilets, beds, blankets, school bags and materials, boats, chainsaws, generators, petrol and the means to replant root vegetables.
- In the rebuild phase, several residences and public buildings will be repaired.
Your donations to UnitingWorld have been used to support this initial response work, and funds will be targeted to support some of the ongoing and longer-term efforts.
Thank you so much for everything you’ve done to build the strength of our friends in Tonga. We and the Free Wesleyan Church appreciate your prayer and giving so much! You can find an extensive report on the ongoing recovery and rebuild plans prepared by the Free Wesleyan Church here – it’s absorbing reading and speaks to the competence and commitment of our partners.
The Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga have other funding partners and are working closely with the Tongan Government. UnitingWorld is working with FWCT to determine which aspects of their plan the funds you helped us raise will support. For more information, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll do our best to answer any questions.
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