[Thought I'd pass along this message from Mercy Corps...]
Three decades ago, I had the honor of living among the people of Samoa as a young missionary. Last month, I returned as an aid worker lending a hand in the aftermath of a tragedy.
A Sept. 29 earthquake under the South Pacific Ocean spawned a tsunami that washed away entire villages and killed 138 people in independent Samoa. I met families living under tarpaulins. I passed bunches of flowers left where loved ones were last seen. And everywhere I saw debris: bedding, clothing, toys, building parts and more.
Thanks to support from Mercy Corps' generous donors, we've put hundreds of affected Samoans back to work, rebuilding some of what they lost. And in Indonesia, we've supplied survivors of the massive earthquake that hit September 30 with shelter materials, drinking water and tools to help them clean up and rebuild.
On Samoa's tiny Manona, an island without cars where villages nestle right up to the water's edge, I watched more than four dozen men restore damaged seawalls and repair building foundations eroded by the surging waves. Cash-for-work programs like these are how we help communities ravaged by disaster lead their own recovery.
This particular work not only resulted in repairs to important infrastructure, but also injected desperately needed cash into the local economy. For a week's work each person earned 100 Samoa Tala, or about $40 — a significant sum in a country where the average annual income is less than $1,000.
My colleagues and I had the privilege of accepting the heartfelt thanks — or "fa'afetai lava" — of the village workers and chiefs. They were truly amazed at the response of Mercy Corps and our local partner, South Pacific Business Development, to help their tiny island rebound from this tragedy.
Our quick response to the disasters in Samoa and Indonesia was made possible by supporters like you. Please help families when they need it most by making a donation to our Emergency Response Fund. Thank you for your support.
Chief Financial Officer