Tongans in Hawaii join forces to send disaster relief to hard-hit island nation
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Right after the earthquake and tsunami disaster in Tonga, Wesley United Methodist Church in Kahala and other United Methodist churches in the state formed a Tongan Relief Task Force.
They’re pulling together to get humanitarian aid to the hard-hit island nation.
“The need now is for water and canned goods and packaged foods at least to last for the next month. That’s urgent right now,” Pastor Piula Alailima said.
Wesley United is accepting financial contributions that will go to a non-profit organization in New Zealand. It will buy the supplies and ship them to the Wesley United Methodist church in Tonga.
“So instead of shipping water from here we are going to be purchasing water there and they do the delivery to the church and also to the government. They have access then to get it out to the people,” Alailima said.
Help is also coming from smaller groups of Tongans in Hawaii. Kava clubs are asking for donations of food, water and clothing for Tonga.
“I know some people are asking for furniture. I know Tonga is going to be rebuilding right now,” Kepu Tauatevalu said.
He’s part of the Kalapu Smart club that will hold a bingo fundraiser and collection drive on Saturday at 218 Mohonua Place off Sand Island Access Road.
“Whatever money that is donated from bingo that we get will be used to purchase pallets of water and pallets of canned goods,” Tauatevalu said.
The club is hoping a shipping line will provide a container that can carry the goods to Tonga. With communication lines still spotty, many Tongans in Hawaii have not been able to contact relatives.
“Seeing my mom crying not knowing what’s going on back home, not having word from her family. It was quite sad,” Tauatevalu said.
Hawaii’s United Methodist churches are also planning for longer range assistance for Tonga.
“We’re encouraging all of our members and friends in the community to save clothing and furniture and all of those things for the next phase. Later on we will be sending work teams to help with the building, plumbing and all of those things,” Alailima said.
If you’d like to contribute to Wesley United Methodist Church’s relief effort, contact the church at 737-3444.
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