As of mid-February, Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand had raised $345,000 in its Tonga appeal set up in the wake of the volcanic eruption and tsunami that hit the Pacific nation on January 15.
Caritas spokesman Roger Ellis told NZ Catholic that “we have been delighted with the generosity of the New Zealand Catholic communities – including schools, parishes, religious congregations, families and individuals, who have given so generously during Tonga’s time of need.”
“We want to thank all those who have contributed to help the people of Tonga,” he said.
Mr Ellis said that Caritas in this country continues to work with their partners Caritas Tonga to assist with the response.
Cleaning up the ashfall has been a major piece of work, Mr Ellis said. Other tasks include checking water supplies and the quality of them. Food insecurity issues are also being assessed at the moment, he added.
“Communications have been disrupted again this week,” Mr Ellis said on February 18.
“Last week we were in daily touch with Caritas Tonga,” he said. “The current Covid situation and lockdown in Tonga means it is more difficult for Caritas Tonga to carry out its work of planning, assessment and engagement with various local communities. Before the country went into lockdown, pre-positioned emergency supplies, set up with Caritas New Zealand in December 2021, were distributed in several villages. This included distributing WASH (Water And Sanitation Health) kits and first aid kits.
Mr Ellis said that it is likely that the joint Caritas response (including solidarity funds and public appeal funds) will focus, in the early stages at least, in the areas of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR).
“DRR would likely include ensuring prepositioned supplies are well maintained and fully stocked, as well as providing community level training, which could incorporate things like how to respond to disasters in the future, how to prepare for potential disaster events, water security initiatives, climate change adaptation methods etc.”
Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand will be there for the long-term recovery, as opposed to a simpler short-term response, Mr Ellis said.
“Due to the generosity of our donors and supporters, Caritas has the resources and the flexibility so that we are very well-placed to support a phased recovery. Caritas Tonga, with support from Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand, will respond to the situation as it continues to unfold, and address the most pressing needs when they arise.”
People are able to donate here: www.caritas.org.nz/donate-online
An one-day online fundraiser for Tonga on February 12, featuring Auckland auxiliary Bishop Michael Gielen, had raised just over $29,000 as of February 18.