Destroyed Fale-176x132
Title: Tsunami in Samoa
Author: Russell Thorp
Topic Genre: Report
Region: South Paciic
Country: Samoa
Date: May 2010
Updated:

Thank you to all those who donated to the relief work in Samoa. The money donated went to Rebuild Samoa who are building houses in the areas affected by the tsunami and towards the distribution of clean drinking water, cooking utensils and clothing.

A Rare Opportunity rises out of Samoan Tsunami

Somehow the events following the devastating Tsunami that hit the southern parts of Samoa in October 2009 brought people and organisations together in a way that gave us a glimpse of what the Kingdom of God is like. I had the opportunity to visit the rebuilding effort at the invitation of Habitat New Zealand as the representative of GC Aid. GC Aid represents the giving of many individuals and churches across New Zealand and also the generosity of our sister organisations in the UK and the US. GC Aid decided to channel funds received through Habitat New Zealand as they were first on the ground in Samoa and were appointed the principal builder by the Samoan government.

This was to be a flying visit- one night and one full day in Samoa- travelling through the Tsunami affected area to view work that had been completed and ongoing building projects that Habitat NZ has been involved with. The significant part of this was that a variety of organisations, individuals and Church groups channeled their efforts through Habitat NZ. It was evident from the start that the way the Samoan Government had paved the way for an early decisive response in allowing Habitat NZ to be the principal builder and agreeing on the type of housing (fale) and ablution facilities meant that other partners could be drawn in to facilitate the rebuilding process. World Vision, Digicel (the local equivalent of Vodafone), Caritas (a Catholic care agency), and significant Samoan New Zealand Pastors (Lui Ponifasio and Tavale Mataia) were engaged with Habitat NZ in the rebuilding project. In a sense, Habitat NZ stepped out in faith as they had no money nor personnel. The call went out through New Zealand and New Zealanders and others responded to the call. GC Aid responded and became a significant donor toward the rebuild project.

Planned activities for the visit included a tour of the Habitat Resource Centre. This innovative mobile mass production facility converts raw materials into finished building products including pre-cut trusses, walls and rebar cut to the appropriate length. The pre-cut components are then transported to the site where teams of volunteers, working with local volunteers, erect the fale.

We attended the dedications of a fale on the South East Coast and a small plaque at Saleapaga in memory of the Martin sisters (see TVNZ footage http://tvnz.co.nz/tvnz-news-at-8/tvnz-news-8-monday-ow-video-2727470 ).

These women were two of four Kiwis killed when the tsunami hit the Tafuatua Fale Beach Resort. Their surviving family made a generous donation toward Habitat's costs in the building of two fales.

We were involved in the dedication of another fale sponsored by The Warehouse (NZ) at Saleaumua and then hosted for lunch at the rebuilt Tafuatua Fale Beach Resort. The owner, Ben Taufua has rebuilt the resort entirely at his own cost and with his own resources. We saw little evidence of other resorts being rebuilt. Ben gave testimony to the sovereignty of God in all that had taken place.

We finished the day with a function at the New Zealand High Commission residence in Apia. All the Habitat volunteer teams were also invited. It was here that the Samoan Prime Minister and Her Excellency the NZ High Commissioner, Caroline Bilkey gave thanks to all those who have been involved. The Habitat NZ representative thanked all those involved, including GC Aid.

The visit highlighted the wonderful way that agencies and individuals had been able to work together towards bringing hope to a community of people who had been devastated. This was a little example of God's Kingdom in action- Christian agencies working together with government agencies together with sponsors such as Air New Zealand and The Warehouse.

It appears to me that this crisis led to a new way of doing mission for Habitat NZ and a new way for GC Aid to be involved. It was so good to see the way Habitat have been able to give hands and feet to the money donated. The many wonderful volunteers who have given time and effort to rebuild and to share their lives with the local people have in turn been enriched.

Lets not forget that as the Samoan project draws to an end in June and July this year, that there is an enormous need for help in Fiji- devastated by Cyclone Thomas. Habitat NZ are preparing to take the equipment purchased for the Samaon project and would like to call for support for those affected by the cyclone in Fiji. Here is another opportunity.

Russell Thorp, May 18, 2010.

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