Con­tainer of hope

Central Leader - - Front Page - By Scott Mor­gan

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.

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

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.

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