On January 15, 2022, the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano erupted and triggered a tsunami that destroyed villages and knocked out communications in Tonga, an island nation of approximately 105,000 people.
The volcanic eruption blanketed Tonga in ash and left its people in great need of basic supplies. Though Tonga’s communication grid still has not regained full capacity, a clear and unmistakable message has emerged: Tonga is in crisis, and the cleanup and recovery efforts are likely to stretch over months and possibly years.
Several countries are continuing international aid shipments following the disaster, with measures in place to try and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Tonga -- one of the few places left in the world that has not yet experienced an outbreak.
In Silicon Valley, ‘Anamatangi Polynesian Voices (APV) is spearheading a coalition of local Pacific Islander community organizations, corporations, congregations and nonprofits to help with relief efforts. APV is partnering with the UPS Foundation, Stanford Hospital and Sutter Health to fill a Boeing 787 with water filtration systems, personal protective equipment and food supplies and fly it to the island. ‘Anamatangi Polynesian Voices has crowdfunded more than $26,000 on their GoFundMe page and collected more than 80,000 pounds of emergency supplies from forty organizations and groups across the United States.
“Our challenge is to fill the Boeing with as many disaster relief supplies as we can to send to the islands and get into the hands of the people of Tonga,” said Shanna ‘Uhilamoelangi, development director at ‘Anamatangi Polynesian Voices.
SVCF has also set up a Tonga Disaster Relief Fund, which will support immediate needs (food, water, filtration systems, medicine, etc.) as well as intermediate and long-term recovery efforts such as mental health services, rebuilding of homes and structures, economic rebuilding and long-term case management.