Friday, April 23, 2010

After Thoughts. Thomas Gogola, Survivor.

“After the tsunami we stayed in Apia for a few days, trying to pick up the we talked to others who had lost family and friends and watched the death toll rise on television, my only question was – if God existed, then why would he have done this to such a religious country?”

Thomas Gogola,United Kingdom. Guest at Maninoa Surf Camp.

After Thoughts. Andrew Peteru, Public Health.

NZ/AUST army help install water tanks at Saleapaga. Photo courtesy of the NZ Defence Force.

“We couldn’t have done it without international assistance – those people that came in and worked on the ground. Never mind about the ‘big wigs’ who say ‘we helped, we did this and that.’ Im talking about those who worked with us. Their careers are moving from one country to another in response to disasters. The people who helped us here – they’re now in Haiti helping with the earthquake response, that’s all they do. From here some had to leave quickly to go to the Indonesia earthquake disaster. That gave me strength that there is this international support. So when the Haiti thing happened, I felt for the Public Health director of the country, you’re thinking about all your counterparts and all these kinds of people when you watch TV and you see what’s happening over there. You know exactly who those people are and what they’re doing. For me, it was really amazing, I’m very grateful for their strength.”
Andrew Peteru, Asst. CEO Health, Samoa.

After Thoughts. Filomena Nelson, Disaster Management.

“Sometimes people are ungrateful, very ungrateful…Whatever donations we get, we give out. If we get boxes of eleni ( mackerel) then we give out boxes of eleni. And some families say, we don’t eat eleni, our family don’t want this. And I just get disgusted by their ungratefulness, some of them don’t value the donations from people. I advise my staff, if the people don’t want it, just bring it back. But you know what? They don’t want to return it, the people complain but they still keep the eleni, they’ll eat it!”
Filomena Nelson, Chief Disaster Management Officer, Samoa.

After Thoughts. Robert Toelupe, Rescuer.

“We need to get our kids to be more able in water. We live on an island surrounded by water and yet most people can’t swim. When I first moved back here, there were at least six drownings in the first three years and that’s way too high for a place that’s surrounded by water. During the tsunami, I saw people that were too scared to go and help others – because they couldn’t swim. If more of our people had been confident in the water, then maybe there wouldn’t have been so many deaths.”
Robert Toelupe, US Navy Veteran, Leone, American Samoa.

After Thoughts. Graham Ansell, Survivor.

Teams search Lalomanu wreckage for the missing. Photo courtesy of the NZ Defence Force.
“We want to say how fantastic the fire service was, and the medical teams. They were there so quickly. Anyone who ever says that there was not enough fast action after the tsunami – they’re wrong. It was unbelievably good, especially for a country like Samoa where you wouldn’t think they would be that well organized. If we had that sort of reaction time in New Zealand, you’d be thrilled. It was sensational. I take my hat off to whoever helps organize Civil Defence in Samoa.”
Graham Ansell, New Zealand. Guest at FaoFao Beach Fales, Saleapaga.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

After. Thoughts. Jared Schwalger, Father.Son.

“Honestly I have to say that I have lost my faith in our people. I have lost my faith that some Samoans deserve a better chance in life, a better opportunity. After everything that’s happened, I try to make sense of it – why would people do such things? Why would people steal from people who have lost loved ones? They even stole the earrings from my daughter’s dead body. I think it’s because they never had those things, like mag wheels, pots and pans, spoons… We’re suffering because we lost our loved ones, we lost every single thing – homes, kids, parents – everything but for those people, the tsunami was a blessing. Now they have the chance to take all the stuff they never had before..”
Jared Schwalger, Malaela. Father of Teancum and Abish, taken by the 29/09 tsunami. Son of Jerry and Metita Schwalger, taken by 29/09 tsunami.

After. Thoughts. From Commissioner Tony Hill, FESA

Commissioner Hill with overseas disaster response team members. Photo courtesy of the NZ Defence Force.

“I didn’t know that Mother Nature could be like this. I had trained for it but to have it happen in our own back yard, I just couldn’t believe it. Cyclones Ofa and Val were nothing like this. Out of the blue like this. The amount of lives that were lost …If it had hit Apia, we would have lost so much more. We were lucky it was early hours of the morning. People were awake. People were evacuating. We were very lucky that it was only a very small percentage of Samoa that got hit. It’s a wake up call. Its telling us – hey, you’ve got to be prepared. Out of all this, we’ve been very fortunate, we’ve got a lot of equipment given to us by the Australians and New Zealanders when they were here helping us out… What it’s saying to me now, is that you’ve got the equipment and you’ve got to put it into place and be ready.” Commissioner Tony Hill, Fire and Emergency Services Authority, Samoa.

After. Thoughts. From Henrietta Aviga, Volunteer Nurse.

Henrietta Aviga helps transport a survivor to the main hospital. Photo courtesy of the New Zealand Defence Force.

“I have seen, I have felt and I now know the concept of a natural disaster. The biggest challenge for me was seeing my own people suffer and the disbelief that this would happen in Samoa. This has given me greater perspective about what is important in my life. I have learnt that family are precious and we need to treasure time spent with them. I am thankful to have been able to serve at home during a time of great need and will always remember the strength of our Samoan people. Their resilience and courage has been an example to me. The opportunity to actually be there and work with other health professionals was priceless. To witness the spirit of the local and global Samoan family in moving so quickly to assist and provide for tsunami victims was uplifting. It was a privilege to be there.”
Henrietta Aviga, Volunteer Nurse, Thursday Island, Australia.

After. Thoughts.

“Building a house for rich people back home in New Zealand – they’re only showing off to their friends, they don’t need it. You build homes here in Samoa for the people of the tsunami – you’re not only building homes, but lives as well.” Jared Suisted, ‘Habitat for Humanity’ volunteer, Cambridge, New Zealand. ‘Waikato Times’ New Zealand.
“It’s been really good. It’s very different; hot, sweaty. Man, I’ve never sweated so much in my life! The work is slow. We’re working with wet timber, limited gear. We’ve got two hammers for four guys, one bench saw. We’re doing our best with what we’ve got.” Glen Cane, Habitat for Humanity Volunteer builder, Matamata, New Zealand. ‘Waikato Times’ New Zealand.

“I seriously believe there was a reason for this tsunami, it was a warning. These are signs of Biblical times. The flood occurred in the Bible and fires and major things occurred. This has to be a sign. We can talk scientific and say the plates shifted here and there and the heat has to come up through some volcano, well whatever, so be it, but it’s a miraculous thing. It’s a miraculous thing that we are all alive and we’re born in this world and we live in paradise, maybe we’ve abused it a little too much and taken it for granted. We need to go back and look at how and where we live and how not to abuse it.” Letiu Lee Palupe, Saleaumua, Samoa. Beside the tree that saved her life.

“The most important lesson for me from this tsunami – is that I never took such things seriously. When they were going through the tsunami drills and educating us about what to do, it wasn’t a big thing to me. It was only now that its happened, that we’ve learnt our lesson. We must learn, listen well to the warnings and the education that is provided by those groups who teach us about galu afi and other natural disasters…but for now, we just have to thank God for being alive.”
Vaelupe Olosepu, Malaela, Samoa.

, “I used to keep things for years, unwilling to let my kids use them. Nice sheets, towels, even clothes. I told my family we needed to save them for a special day. A special visitor. But then the tsunami came and took it all! Now I will teach my children and grandchildren not to keep things for years. They don’t matter. They wont last. Worry instead about being kind and share with everyone because things of this world wont last.”
Amy Purcell, Malaela, Samoa. Grt-grandmother of 3 yr old tsunami victim, Joseph Purcell.

“This is my only child left. I just thank God that one of my children survived...There has been so much kindness. Everything our family needed has been provided. After the [tsunami] we had nothing but we have been given so many things – a fridge, pots, plates and so much clothing and other things all the kindness and love of people. I just thank the goodness of people from our own country and all those from outside too.”
Tofilau Afatasi, Poutasi, Samoa. Father of two children killed in the tsunami.