Shipment of aid sent to Tonga to assist disaster victims
Photos courtesy of Giovanni Portelli / The Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney
In January the world was stunned by a volcanic eruption and subsequent tsunami in Tonga that devastated the islands, leaving homes and livelihoods destroyed.
Immediate aid became difficult. The small island nation was all but cut off from the outside world as damaged fibre-optic cables limited communications and ash from the eruption affected water supplies and prevented air arrivals. Additionally, whilst the rest of the world was managing rising cases of COVID, Tonga had managed to keep COVID at zero cases and more so than ever was keen to keep the virus at bay, due to the damage to homes and health facilities.
Consoeur Deirdre Page in collaboration with Fr Aliki Langi from the Holy Name of Mary Parish Hunters Hill, NSW met with a group of the leaders of the Diaspora to discuss ways in which the Order of Malta could assist the relief effort.
As a first step in our aid program, the Order sponsored a forty-foot shipping container to transport items that have been collected by the Catholic Tonga community in Sydney to be delivered to the people of the Island of Atata, and the villages of Ha’atafu, Kanokupolu, Ha’akili, Kolovai, Ha’avakatolo and Fo’ui. The Order of Malta also arranged for 200 of our Care packs (containing anti-bacterial wipes, masks, socks, dental care items and soaps) and rosary beads, nappies and female sanitary items for inclusion in the shipment.
The shipment was packed this weekend and the High Comissioner for Tonga, Princess ʻAngelika Lātūfuipeka Tukuʻaho travelled from Canberra to Sydney to grace the occasion, inspected everything and thanked the Order for our aid.
The Order of Malta will continue to support our neighbours and friends in Tonga during their recovery effort.