Theres been a lot of grief in the news lately about tsunami relief NOT getting to where it should. About people NOT getting help. While Im sure that there are many instances of wonky, misdirected aid efforts and while I know of other instances where some people are receiving - and then lying about it so they can get more....I also see and hear everyday, tsunami relief that IS getting where it should. To everyone out there who's fundraising, collecting food and clothing, buying building materials, sending money and generally giving blood, sweat and tears to help tsunami Samoa survive and rebuild - this notes for you.
I have seen - * a young mother in a wheelchair, her still-healing bandaged leg. So grateful to the plastic surgeon and the medical team from NZ and Aust. that did the skin graft, that ensured she WOULDNT need an amputation. 'They were so kind. So careful. So nice to me.' she said, voice thick with emotion.
* families living in tents in the rainforest bush. Tents donated by the Red Cross, the NZ Army and countless others. A child regards me with solemn eyes through the netted doorway of his familys tent as mozzies buzz and hum. And rain trickles down my back. And the fresh cut bush is thick and heavy around us. A 74 yr old gentleman says to me with tears. 'We dont want to become people of the bush. We mustnt become people of the bush. There - at Satitoa by the sea - that is where our homes are. That is where our grandparents are buried. That is where we should be.'
*Truckloads of wood and other building materials chugging their way over Le Mafa Pass. The first houses being built by Habitat for Humanity and Caritas and so many others.
*Huge containers being opened and distributed at various village points along the route. There are crowds of people. Patient and calm. Sitting in the sun waiting while the pulenuu unpack and give out. Boxes of clothes. Canned food. Mosquito nets. Outside one container a team of helpers are building careful stacks of kitchenware....one for you, one for you. More than 30 stacks. A shiny new pot. A kettle. A gleaming frying pan. A handful of plates. Rows and rows of new cookware anticipating their new owners. (Dont underestimate the power of a new pot. I have one miserable broken frying pan and it drives me insane everytime i need to make pancakes.)
* A mother of 8 children say thank you for the blankets and clothes they were given on Wednesday the day after the galu lolo. At her breast is a chubby one year old with mischief in her eyes who keeps trying to grab the MP3 recorder off her mum and put it in her mouth. 'We spent the night in the bush. We were wet and cold. We had nothing. I didnt care about me but I only wanted to find a way for my children to be warm. Thank God for the clothes and blankets we received.' This is the same mother who's 4 yr old son was asleep in a galu lolo submerged-smashed-to-bits house. And then found still breathing under a pile of debris several hours later. And today, I cant grab him to take a photo because hes too busy pestering the AUST army team who are busy cleaning up cement rubble by the beachside. He skips on golden sand. And laughs by blue water.
If you had any doubts about whether or not your donation was needed. Utilized. Appreciated. If you were wondering whether or not the people of the galu lolo still need your help. Whether its a pot. Some planks of wood. A can of fruit. Your prayers and thoughts.
This notes for you.