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Donation drive focuses on long-term recovery for those hit by Tonga tsunami, eruption

It has been almost a month since a powerful tsunami hit Tonga, and relief efforts are still taking place in Hawaii to support impacted families.
Published: Feb. 12, 2022 at 4:58 PM HST|Updated: Feb. 12, 2022 at 5:46 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It has been almost a month since an undersea eruption triggered a powerful tsunami in Tonga, and relief efforts are still taking place in Hawaii to support impacted families.

Donations for Tonga poured in at the Parish of St. Clement’s Episcopal Church on Saturday.

Several groups including the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga, Titans Rugby and V Knack joined forces to organize the drive.

Although it will take about two months until the donations to arrive in Tonga, Crystal Kionia who is a member of the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga said the goal goes beyond providing immediate assistance.

“Eventually, the aid and donations are going to stop,” Kionia explained. “So, how can we, the Tongan communities on Oahu still support our families and the people of Tonga throughout the many months.”

Kionia said they were able to secure a free container from Matson through one of the community members.

In about two hours, the U-Haul truck was filled up with donations, including canned goods, clothes, cases of water, cleaning supplies and women’s hygiene products.

It was an overwhelming sight for Monika Vehikite who said her sister’s home was flooded by the tsunami.

Her most recent call with her sister was three days ago.

“Now they’re on lockdown and source for food supplies, not so much,” Vehikite said. “Government is very poor, so right now they can’t do much. They need as much help as they can.”

Vehikite appreciates the relief efforts being made in Hawaii.

“I’m super excited and I love everything that the Tongan community is doing here,” said Vehikite. “It’s very helpful.”

Lawmakers said they’re exploring ways to help Tonga through state resources.

“We’ll be talking with the leaders of the churches, Tongan churches and the community just to see if there’s something that the state can do to provide relief as well,” said State Rep. Sylvia Luke.

“We do want to do this long-term and be able to establish some kind of community effort for the long run,” said Kionia.

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