Tonga is the second most vulnerable country in the world to natural disasters. Cyclones, earthquakes, tsunami risk all make the country vulnerable. On 12 February, Tonga was hit by Tropical Cyclone Gita, the strongest the nation had seen in 60 years. The damage toll was massive, affecting at least 70% of the population.
In its initial response UnitingWorld supported the established Disaster Chaplaincy Network by leading debriefing sessions, training more ministers in disaster trauma counselling and supplying them with vest to make them easily identifiable in communities.
UnitingWorld is now partnering with the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga (FWCT) to support the recovery of communities and to establish policies, protocols and resources which can be mobilised rapidly in the event of any future disasters. This will assist the FWCT to be able to more quickly repair or rebuild any damaged schools and church/community centres in future, which helps in reducing the impact of disasters on affected communities, for example in reducing the time that families are living within damaged buildings, children are out of school and helping people to return to a sense of normality more quickly.
Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga