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Update from the Tonga disaster response

Our friends in Tonga are incredibly grateful for the support so many of you have shown since Hunga Tonga-Hung Ha’api erupted on Jan 15, causing a tsunami and massive destruction on remote islands.

With your help we’ve raised over $125,000 so far for our partners to invest into their work caring for people impacted by the disaster. Thank you!

If you would like to add your support for Tonga you can still give here.

Project Manager Aletia Dundas, who is helping support the efforts of the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga (FWCT) from our office in Sydney, provides an update below.

Would you like to send a message of support?

We’ve organised an e-card that we’ll deliver on Friday to our friends in Tonga. It’s easy to sign and we’d love you to add your prayer or message of support.

Should we collect items to send?

We’ve received many generous offers to donate items for people in Tonga. While we’re very grateful for the support, our partners have requested that people not send items into the country.

Items donated from Australia can clog up ports and prevent much needed aid from quickly reaching those who need it most. The vast majority of donated items aren’t appropriate for the context and tragically, end up in landfill.  Read more here about why cash donations are the best way to show your support.

Your past support in action

We talk a lot about the critical important of disaster preparedness and Tonga is a great example of how your support is making a huge difference!

After Cyclone Gita, FWCT wanted to be able to respond faster to the next disaster. Thanks to your support, they built and stocked a large storage facility to be able to begin repairs to damaged buildings within days and weeks after a cyclone rather than having to wait for supplies to be shipped in from outside. It was used for Cyclone Harold and is now being used to repair buildings damaged by the tsunami.

Back in 2015, FWCT also wanted to create a network of chaplains to support people in the event of disaster or crisis. They requested experts Rev. Dr Stephen Robinson, Rev. Nau Ahosivi and Rev. Alimoni Taumoepeau to run a series of training sessions for their ministers and create the network.

When cyclones Gita and Harold hit, the network was deployed and provided valuable support to people who’d lost their homes and were surrounded by devastation. The experience the chaplains gained during these emergencies meant they were immediately ready when the tsunami hit this month, and they’ve been hard at work visiting affected communities.

Through our partnership, FWCT also accessed a grant from the Australian Government to supply water tanks to vulnerable families affected by Cyclone Harold and to support health and hygiene advice for COVID-19 prevention. Eight were 10,000 litre tanks for communal use in vulnerable areas. Access to clean drinking water has been a critical issue since the tsunami hit, and authorities warned residents to protect water sources in advance from volcanic ash fall. We are still waiting to hear how many were able to do it and how the tanks fared.

Thank you so much for supporting our partners in Tonga before and after this crisis. It’s truly making a huge difference.