A helping hand can make a difference - Tonga
Tropical Cyclone (TC) Gita struck Tonga on 12 February 2018, affecting an estimated 80,000 women, men, boys and girls (about 70 per cent of the entire population). The category four cyclone caused destruction to homes, water supply systems, farming land and livelihoods.
Working to meet the needs of affected people, Mainstreaming Rural Development Innovation Tonga Trust (MORDI), Live & Learn Environmental Education Tonga, and CARE Australia formed a partnership to deliver emergency aid and recovery support across Tongatapu and ‘Eau. This partnership was funded by the Australian government through the Australian Humanitarian Partnership (AHP).
This AHP-funded response reached over 3,500 people with initial emergency aid distributions, and will work with 33 communities on emergency recovery projects, including repairs to shelter, rainwater harvesting systems, and helping reestablish food security and livelihoods. Embedded throughout the work is a strong focus on ensuring participation and inclusion of all community members, including women, youth, and people living with disabilities.
The Alonga Centre, both a home and a disabled peoples organisation in Pea village outside of the Capital of Nuku’alofa, was devastated by TC Gita. Established in 1977, the Centre provides temporary and permanent housing for 32 people, including 21 adults and three children, eight staff members, along with family and volunteers.
TC Gita wreaked havoc on the Centre, tearing off most of the roof and leaving many of the 32 residents exposed to the elements. According to the centre's manager Lavinia Satini, the 32 residents were without a roof for two weeks. She contacted MORDI, after hearing about the MORDI/Live&Learn/CARE Partnership, and their work on the TC Gita response. MORDI sent a team to assess the damage, and began retrofitting and securing the roof with tarpaulins, within 10 days of being notified, the centre was fully repaired and reconstructed.
According to Lavinia, the centre's residents struggle with seeing, walking, communicating and remembering, but because of all these helping hands and the warm heart that was offered, residents will not have to struggle without a home and a place to live. She concluded “we are so grateful for what they have done for us and we are truly blessed to have these people here in Tonga. We may be faced with hard times, but a helping hand can make a difference”.
Date of article: May 2018.
Through the Australian Humanitarian Partnership, CARE Australia received $500,000 for their Cyclone Gita response in Tonga. The length of this response is February 2018 - February 2019. Activities include shelter, protection, water sanitation and hygiene (WASH).