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Up from the Rubble: ABM and the resilient people of Tonga, PNG, and Indonesia

PNG EQ Yaken Primary School, Imbongu District - Prep Work for guttering systems by Tubiri Commnuity
Tubiri Community members work to prepare for guttering systems at Yaken Primary School, Imbongu District,
Papua New Guinea. © Daniel Olen, Anglicare, 2018.

December 2019

When disasters struck Tonga, PNG and Indonesia in 2018, ABM’s local partners came up with three different solutions. ABM supported all three solutions.

Tonga

In response to Cyclone Gita in Tonga, the Anglican Diocese of Polynesia provided some short- term supplies like water purification tablets and water containers. But the locals also wanted to build longer term resilience.

What sort of longer term resilience? Think chainsaws, building materials, electricity generators, three 10,000 litre water tanks and trainings in disaster preparedness. The Anglican Diocese of Polynesia, with support from ABM and other Anglican Church aid agencies, provided all of these.

The local church was therefore able to repair 17 cyclone-affected houses and upgrade two church compounds to serve more effectively as evacuation centres in future emergencies. It installed the three new water tanks (in Va’vau and Ha’apai). It organised training for Tongan youth leaders in disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. It made use of two shipping containers that were used to transport the equipment from New Zealand to Tonga, using them to store prepositioned supplies for future emergencies.

With climate change continuing unabated, the Anglican response in Tonga has prepared some communities well for the next cyclone.

Papua New Guinea

When a 7.5 magnitude earthquake hit the Highlands Region of Papua New Guinea (PNG), the locals prioritised building a reliable, accessible water supply.

Anglicare PNG was able to draw on support from the Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea (ACPNG), ABM and other members of Anglican Alliance, as well as in-kind support from the communities themselves. Other local churches (through the Australian Government-funded Church Partnership Program) assisted with some of the transportation. This enabled nine large water tanks to be hauled up into the mountains and installed in and around the town of Mendi, including at Yaken Primary School and Kip High School. (Anglicare also installed many more tanks through a separate program funded by an international corporation).

In 2019, when representatives from Anglicare and ACPNG returned to Mendi to conduct monitoring, the nine tanks were providing clean water in nine communities.

The logistics of planning and implementing the program had been formidable but, as local elders effused, the program turned out to be a “prayer answered”.

Indonesia

Reihan, his father and a worker from local organisation, YEU (photo courtesy of ACT Alliance) Reihan, his father and a worker from local organisation, YEU. (photo courtesy of ACT Alliance)

Reihan, his father and a worker from local
organisation, YEU. (photo courtesy of ACT
Alliance)

Dozens of villages were reduced to rubble by the 2018 earthquake and tsunami in Sulawesi, Indonesia. But in 2019, Taipei village hall was thronging expectantly with survivors.

Local non-government organisation, Yakkum Emergency Unit (YEU), was working with Christian Blind Mission (CBM) and a local bank to distribute special purpose grants to People Living with a Disability (PWD). The small grants were part of a relief program funded by Action by Churches Together (ACT) Alliance with support from ABM.

One of those in the hall was Hadijah, a 72-year-old grandmother. She planned to use her small grant to re-open her kiosk, which was destroyed during the earthquake. Sitting beside Hadijah was Reihan, a 6-year-old boy with cerebral palsy. He and his father planned to use the grant to buy toys, clothes and a whiteboard. With Reihan soon to enter elementary school, his father felt that having a whiteboard would help Reihan also to learn at home.

 

Rising from the rubble in Tonga, PNG and Indonesia are many stories of hope and resilience. ABM thanks our supporters who have prayed and contributed financially to our relief responses in these countries.

 

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