The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is partnering with the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Tonga to deliver support to those impacted by the January 15 volcanic eruption and tsunami.
ADRA and the Church have committed A$140,000 to the response so far, with that figure expected to rise as donations continue to come in.
ADRA is providing cash vouchers for food and other essential items to 700 affected households on Tonga’s main island of Tongatapu and the outer islands. The longer term strategy would see ADRA supporting people whose livelihoods have been impacted through loss of crops and livestock. The current budget estimate for this support is A$66,000.
According to the latest ADRA situation report (January 31), 84 per cent of the Tongan population were affected by the disaster. Many in the community have been left homeless: 293 homes were damaged and 1525 people are still displaced. While international aid has begun to arrive, food security remains a significant concern. Communication to the country continues to be a challenge.
ADRA South Pacific, with the support of ADRA Australia and ADRA New Zealand, is partnering with the Tonga Mission team to provide aid to impacted communities under the guidance of the National Emergency Management Organisation.
On Monday, the Mission team delivered cash to residents of Mango and Atata islands. Today (Wednesday) they will be travelling to Ha’apai island on a similar mission.
The eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai undersea volcano last month caused a tsunami which inundated parts of Tongatapu and other nearby islands. Three lives were lost. Homes, churches and other public infrastructure were damaged. Some Adventist Church buildings were impacted, including the Mission office, the Mission president’s residence and another house on the compound. The Mission has lost records and equipment, and the office required a major clean-up to remove flood debris.
ADRA South Pacific regional director Greg Young said the people of Tonga remain optimistic despite the challenges they have been going through.
“It has been inspiring to hear of the resilience of the Tongan people and how they are stepping up from all levels of society to support those impacted,” Mr Young said.
Fundraising efforts for Tonga continue, including a special concert being organised by the Fiji Mission team to be held this Sunday night (February 6). Fiji Mission also organised a “Buckets of Biscuits” initiative in collaboration with the Trans Pacific Union Mission. The response was swift: in two days 765 buckets of biscuits were donated by local churches and individuals to be sent to Tonga.