Throughout the week of March 8-12, 2010, U.S. based NGO Samaritan’s Purse continued its distribution of relief/recovery goods to Samoan communities affected by the September 2009 Tsunami.
The Samaritan’s Purse Samoa Tsunami Project is part of on-going U.S. Government assistance. Samaritan’s Purse were awarded a USD $500,000 (WST $1.259 million) grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), to distribute tsunami relief/recovery non-food items to affected communities in the Independent State of Samoa. Samaritan’s Purse has partnered with local NGO and church based groups such as the Apia Protestant Church, Rhema Bible School and other volunteer groups in the country. The organization also coordinated efforts with the Disaster Management Office (DMO) and Samoa Red Cross Society to access information identifying the total number and names of families whose homes and possessions were affected directly by the September tsunami.
After the initial USAID assessment, members of Samaritans Purse flew into Samoa in early October 2009 to plan this project. As soon as DMO and Red Cross identified affected families, the first set of goods (hygiene kits and other items of immediate need) were distributed in early November—this was followed by two additional rounds with the second and third distribution including other items of use at that time, such as mats, linens, tools, wheelbarrows, lanterns, etc.; the March 8-12 goods distribution will be the final distribution to affected families, and came because the organization was able to stretch the original dollars further than expected.
Packages including mosquito nets, kerosene burners and kerosene supply, axes, spades, shovels, picks, machetes, kerosene lanterns, plates and cups, buckets, nails, hammers and mats, among other items were distributed directly to household members. Most of the goods distributed were purchased locally from hardware and supermarkets in Samoa.
For the current distribution of goods, Samaritans Purse identified 300 families in 26 villages including Aleipata (Utufa’alalafa, Saleaumua, Mtiatele, lotopue, Malaela, Satitia, Ulutogia, Vailoa, Lalomanu, Saleapaga, Lepa, Lotofaga) to Falealili (Matatufu, Sapoe, Utulaelae, Salani, Salesatele, Sapunaoa, Satalo, Tafatafa) Siumu area (Siumu I Sisifo, Tafitoala, Sataia, Saanapu) Manono Island and south west Upolu (Manono Uta, Samatau, Siufaga, Matafaa, Lepuiai, Faleu, Apai) and Savaii (Satupaitea—Pitonuu and Mosula) to receive assistance.
U.S. Embassy Apia Chargé Yeager stated that the benefit of the USAID grant through the work of Samaritans Purse is the United States Government’s continued commitment to provide relief to victims of the disaster that affected Samoa. The donations made by the U.S. Government to the Government of the Independent State of Samoa, to local NGOs and to Samaritan’s Purse for work in Samoa, as well as the arrival of tons of goods sent by caring Americans, and organized by the Samoan communities in the U.S. over the past 6 months are all a reflection of the humanitarian sprit and concern for the people of Samoa from the people of the United States.
“Our work in Samoa has been rewarding, from volunteers, local business to the families, everyone has been great and grateful,” said Paul Murphy of Samaritans Purse. “The helpfulness of the people has ensured the success of our job, we are having fun--being the Santa Clauses giving out gifts and seeing the smiles on people’s faces”. Samaritan’s Purse is an American NGO formed by Rev. Franklin Graham, son of famed religious figure Rev. Billy Graham.
Rev. Nuuausala Siaosi of the Apia Protestant Church has been a key member in the distribution, serving as the project’s main liaison and protocol advisor. Rev. Siaosi has been with the project and at every site from the beginning along with youth from his congregation who have all tirelessly volunteered their time. Rev Siaosi states “it is a privilege to distribute goods with Samaritan’s Purse and it’s been a privilege to be part of the countrywide help for affected tsunami families. God bless the American people for these gifts.”
Taofi Tupufia of Manono Uta was grateful when her family was given household supplies , she said “God bless the good people of America, we will not forget this kindness”. This was further echoed by Lavea Talaia of Samatau who thanked the American people for the gifts, “which will help us in the rebuilding of homes, families and communities.”
Samaritan’s Purse’s work in Samoa will wind down towards the end of this month after the distribution of 362 air horns to villages as part of a national tsunami warning system. Purchased through additional USAID funds the project will be jointly organized and distributed with help from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment’s Disaster Management Office.
---United States Embassy Apia, Samoa--- samoa.usembassy.gov