Container of hope
HELP is on the way to the tsunami-ravaged Samoan village of Lalomanu thanks to the generosity of a local business.
Weldwell New Zealand in Penrose is collecting tools, building supplies, linen and other household items to put into a six-metre container it plans to send to help with the rebuilding effort.
The company’s business development manager Saiyad Irshad says it wasn’t a hard decision to organise the con- tainer after seeing the effect the disaster had on sales representative Al Lutau, whose family is from Lalomanu.
“After the tsunami I came to work and asked Al if everything was fine. You could see on his face everything wasn’t okay.”
Mr Irshad, who is from Fiji, says it’s important to get the container to Samoa before the cyclone season begins next month.
“What people don’t realise is if we don’t support them now it could be a double whammy for them.”
While Mr Lutau was lucky not to lose any family in the disaster, he says it was devastating to find out the village had been virtually destroyed.
“There was a family who lost 13 members that lived next door to us.”
About 40 people from Lalomanu died in the tragedy, while the death toll for the entire country has officially reached 143.
The New Windsor resident says there’s been limited communication with his aunties, uncles and cousins since the tsunami, though he understands they are staying in the hills.
When the 27-year-old found out that his bosses at Weldwell had organised for a container of supplies to be sent over, he got quite emotional.
“I’m embarrassed to say I had a cry,” he says.
Mr Lutau’s father will travel to Samoa to co-ordinate distribution of the goods from the container once it arrives in early November.
Local churches are play- ing their part to fill the container, but donations from the public are welcome.
If you’d like to donate tools, building supplies, linen or other household items you can drop them off at Wellweld’s Penrose premises, Unit 20, 761 Great South Rd during business hours or on Saturday between 9am and 3pm.
Weldwell is putting on a sausage sizzle on Saturday to thank members of the public who give items to the cause. Five members of the All Nations Church of the Nazarene are headed for Samoa to help in the tsunami relief effort.
The mission, funded by the Balmoral-based church, will be led by doctor Rachel Singh and also includes two nurses, a counsellor and a Samoan member of the church.
Dr Singh says they will be visiting some of the smaller villages that haven’t received as much attention during the relief effort.
“We wanted to show our solidarity with the Samoan people, get a medical team together and provide some help.
“There’s a lot of waterborn diseases and fungal infections. We’ll be doing dressings and some counselling as well.”
She says it’s important to look after people’s emotional and physical needs.
“The most important part is reaching out. We’ll be travelling every day to another village.”
Dr Singh says the trip has been organised with the help of a Samoanbased church.
“We talk to the people and pray for them. “There’s nothing there.” The church has a history of sending relief teams to disaster-stricken parts of the world, including India and Fiji.
Nurse Rani Pudi, who’s been on previous aid missions, says she had no hesitation signing up again.
“I’m so happy to be of service. In the past the people said, ‘We feel happy someone came and helped us’.”
The church team is also taking some clothes and food with them when they leave for the week-long trip on Sunday.
Donations can be dropped off at the church, 675 Dominion Rd, Balmoral.
Filling up: Weldwell New Zealand business development manager Saiyad Irshad and sales rep Al Lutau are hoping to fill a shipping container full of building supplies, clothes and linen to help the people of Lalomanu village in Samoa which was wiped out by a tsunami.