As news of the Tonga tsunami falls off the headlines, several businesses in Australia and New Zealand are continuing their efforts to raise funds for residents in need of food, clean water and money for survival. to come up.
The January 15 tsunami, caused by an underwater volcanic eruption, damaged crops and destroyed boats used for fishing (the two main sources of income) and, according to the UN, affected up to 80% of population. It was followed by an epidemic of COVID-19 which makes recovery more difficult.
Phoebe Preuss, of Melbourne-based bean-to-bar chocolate company Living Koko, which sources cocoa directly from farmers on several Pacific islands, said supporting Tonga with donations was an easy decision .
“I know from my own experience when Samoa had a tsunami a few years ago what those villages near the ocean are going through,” she says. His contacts on the ground spoke of dangerous volcanic ash covering crops and homes and contaminating drinking water.
For its Koko Moka bars, Living Koko uses coffee from Tupu’anga, a social enterprise plantation on the island, while the cocoa is sourced from Samoa, where the de Preuss family is from.
The company donates 10% of all sales in February to support the reconstruction of Tonga.
Preuss is also hosting weekly Pacific Dance and Breathing workshops until March 8 and donating all proceeds to a fundraiser run by the New Zealand organization Affirming Works, which runs the Tupu’anga coffee plantation and works with 25 agricultural cooperatives.
Singing and dancing are an important part of Pacific Island culture, Preuss says, but all are welcome. “People between the ages of 6 and 70 learn all the movements at once.”
So far, Affirming Works’ Tag Tonga fundraiser has raised NZ$26,000, with donors able to identify a particular village, family or other recipient if they wish.
The World Bank estimates that the economic damage is equivalent to almost a fifth of Tonga’s GDP and that full recovery will take many years.
Heilala, the vanilla of choice for avid bakers, has already raised NZ$155,000 through its website to support Tongan communities, but wants to raise more.
The New Zealand company, established in 2002 in response to another natural disaster, works with 400 Tongan farming families to source vanilla beans. To help these communities, Heilala has partnered with a Tongan NGO called MORDI to deliver food. In the longer term, they want to distribute seeds to replant crops that have been destroyed.
Preuss says non-perishable food and clean water are the immediate priorities, but in the longer term families will need help reviving the agricultural crops that are their livelihoods.
To support fundraising efforts, visit livingkoko.com and make a purchase in February.
Dance workshops in Melbourne take place from 6pm to 7pm every Tuesday and can be booked in line (follow the link Register for courses). Fee is a donation of your choice, which goes to the Fundraising Affirming Works.
Heilala fundraiser is accepting donations here.