30 March, 2011. The Tonga Red Cross Society‟s (TRCS) collection for the Japan Earthquake Appeal has now reached TOP47,020 and will be transmitted to the Japan Red Cross, who has been providing immediate assistance in the aftermath of the deadly earthquake and tsunami of 11 March, 2011.
"The Tonga Red Cross Society is humbled by the donations and the spirit of sharing. I am not surprised by this as I know our people feel greatly for our friends in Japan and we commiserate with their loss especially knowing the close relationship Tonga and Japan have," said Hon. Alaileula Tuku‟aho, Chairperson of the TRCS.
The Tonga Red Cross Society held a fundraising radiothon on Saturday 19 March, 2011 broadcast nationally for four hours with JICA volunteers and about 50 TRCS volunteers collecting donations by the road and key locations both on Tongatapu and the outer islands.
During this time, interviews were conducted with key figures affiliated to Japan. They included the Hon. Minister of Police, Hon. Dr. Viliami Latu, who received his PhD from Japan, Dr. Fusi Fifita and Hehea Tukuafu. Va‟inga Palu, President of the Japan Alumni Association of Tonga, acknowledged the assistance through training funded by Japan. 'Emosi Kauhenga, rugby player for Ricoh in Japan, was in Tonga and spoke of the kindness of the Japanese people.
The appeal acknowledged the role of aid from Japan. Natalia Latu from Aid Management Division of the Ministry of Finance gave a brief summary of the projects funded by Japan while Dr. Sililo Tomiki, Head of the Dentistry Department of Vaiola Hospital, spoke about help they received. HE Yasuo Takase, Ambassador to Tonga, was moved by the outpouring and was present at the appeal.
"This is not about reciprocating the assistance Japan has given over the past 41 years. We cannot match that. We give because we care and Red Cross has been on the ground from Day 1 giving assistance. Times are tough and we don‟t want to burden our people but people give because we care and it is our duty to our fellow human beings," says Secretary General of TRCS, Sione Taumoefolau.
The radiothon with TCC‟s assistance lined up live calls to Tongans in Japan. Takai Palei, Uatesoni Namoa, Pi‟ei Mafile‟o and Lata Lui spoke to Monalisa Palu on Radio Tonga 1 about their respective areas.
"We are running out of food and petrol. The roads are damaged by the earthquake, the tsunami has washed so much debris on the shores that it is hard for ships to bring in aid and now there are radiation fears and it is very cold," said Lata Lui who is in Japan with his one year old child and wife.
Pi‟ei Mafile‟o recalled the fateful day where he saved a 3 year old left in a car when the tsunami hit. He swam in to save the child who was later reunited with the mother.
"We just ran. We had never seen anything like it," he said referring to the tsunami.
The TRCS thanks the Japanese Embassy for its continued support. It has sent over donations presented to the Embassy including a $200,000 cheque from the Government of Tonga.
Providing services in: Blood Donor Support, Disability Support, Disaster Preparedness, First Aid, Health Promotion, Promotion of Humanitarian Values & Social Welfare, through the Red Cross National Office, Ha'apai Branch & Vava'u Branch, and the Alonga Centre, Blood Transfusion Service, Hearing Impaired School & Ofa Tui Amanaki Centre.