Churches send aid to islands

Published February 1, 2003

Honiara, Solomon Islands

Church-run organizations are in the front line of providing aid to Solomon Islanders in the South Pacific who were battered by Cyclone Zoe at the end of December. The partnerships department of the Anglican Church of Canada, which maintains links with overseas churches, has sent $4,000 to the Church of Melanesia to be used immediately for food, clothing and building supplies.

The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund, the Canadian church’s disaster relief and international aid organization, intends to support Solomon Islands relief through Action by Churches Together (ACT), said Naba Gurung, a spokesperson for PWRDF. ACT is a global alliance of churches that mobilizes quickly to provide emergency relief.

The Australian arm of Caritas, a Catholic agency for overseas aid and development, has also committed itself to helping rebuild communities on the islands.

Cyclone Zoe hit the islands of Tikopia and Anuta, in the eastern Solomon Islands on Dec. 28-29, packing winds of more than 300 km/h. Although property damage was widespread, there were no deaths among the 1,500 islanders, who took shelter in mountain caves used for generations as a refuge from severe weather.

However, homes, crops and water supplies were devastated by the winds and 10-metre-high waves. Five church buildings were destroyed on Tikopia. “People especially need to get their subsistence gardens growing again,” wrote Bishop Terry Brown of the diocese of Malaita in an e-mail to the national church office in Toronto. Bishop Brown is a Canadian who once served in the partnerships department of General Synod.

The islands are in the diocese of Temotu and the bishop, David Vunagi, was to visit the islands toward the end of January to bring relief supplies. Bishop Vunagi recently studied at Vancouver School of Theology.


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