Dear Bodhi and Andaman Discoveries:
Seacology has been very busy since the tsunami struck the Polynesian archipelago of Samoa. With our island focus and roster of projects there, we became involved immediately. Falealupo village in Western Samoa is the location of Seacology’s flagship project where we partnered with a concerned community to preserve a 30,000 acre rainforest in the early 1990’s. Naturally, we waited with baited breath to get word.
Here is the most recent news from our field representative:
Thanks you so much for your concern and prayers. Samoa is still trying to come to terms with the tragedy. SO many lives were lost including one of my extended family (young child) and some friends and their families. As my family live on the hill and on the north part of the islands, we were safe from the tsunami which caused the most damage.
In terms of the national situation, all the district of Aleipata (on the south eastern end of Upolu islands) has been destroyed. Other districts most affected are all along the south coast (Falealili; Siumu; and Lepa). Over 30,000 people (close to 20% of the population) live along the affected areas. In most cases, all the houses have been destroyed along with all the belongings. To date over 115 people have been found dead while search is on going for some missing people.
The situation at the affected areas are that relief efforts for food, water, clothing are now moving there from families and groups around the country. Outside relief work is also starting to arrive from Australia and NZ. The US, I think, is providing the bulk of the assistance for Am Samoa. The roads to the affected areas are washed away in some cases so reconstruction is focusing on roads, electricity, and water supply and transporting the injured to the hospital as well and burials for the dead I’m heading off soon to the affected areas and will try and take some photos.
For the Indonesian tsunami of 2005, four of our projects and the villages surrounding them were hit: the Kendhoo School, Maldives; the Kiralakele Mangrove Center, Sri Lanka; the Mangrove Biological Garden and Resource Center, Andaman Islands; and the Dugong Conservation Project, Trang Province, Thailand. Seacology repaired all of these projects from our operating budget, which we will also do for our Samoa projects. However, since the villages in proximity to the projects were so integral to our efforts, we felt compelled to help them. We had a field representative in each project area plus an economic infrastructure already established, so offering serious assistance was realistic.
Our emergency efforts started by asking our field representatives to find out what were the most critical needs to help the villagers put their lives back together. Of course, as you would particularly understand, it was different for each village. We will proceed in the very same way with the Samoan tsunami by having Cedric, our field representative, ask the Samoan villages what they need. Those villages are: Satapuala village, Upolu Island; and Falealupo and Tafua villages, Savai’i Island. We are anticipating that all of the villages will need repairs to public facilities and basic infrastructure.
With the proceeds of the Samoa Emergency Relief Fund, we will assist the islanders with the projects they have identified are most necessary. We plan to work in a concentric circle, starting with the greatest needs. In general, the islanders and field representative feel that additional funds should go to help the poorest families and work outward from there.
Bodhi, as a fellow grassroots island supporter, I very much appreciate your interest in supporting Seacology’s tsunami relief efforts for Samoa. Seacology has chosen to target three villages where locally based volunteers live and work and where our field representative can monitor the disbursement of funds. Seacology ensures that all money raised will go directly to assist victims of this devastating tsunami. On behalf of the more than 100,000 islands of the world, we appreciate your inquiry to support Seacology’s island conservation endeavors.
P.s. Your work with Andaman Discoveries is wonderful.