The newest member of the confederation, Caritas Samoa, found itself coping with a major emergency when a tsunami hit the Pacific Islands of Samoa, American Samoa and Tonga in September.
The fledgling Caritas organisation had just played host to the Caritas Oceania Regional Conference, during which a disaster simulation exercise was staged. Among those taking part were the President of Caritas Oceania, Ms Anne Dickinson, the chief executives of Caritas Oceania member organisations, the Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis, and Her Highness Masiofo Filifilia Tamasese, the wife of Samoa’s Head of State, who attended the conference as patron of Caritas Samoa.
Little did they know that within days they would be doing it all for real. Caritas workers responded quickly, taking people to safety and providing themwith shelter and water. Caritas Samoa is now building new homes for survivors.
Around 190 people lost their lives in the tsunami, most of them in Samoa.
“There were 14 people who died from our village. I survived because we lived in a two-storey building and the waves didn’t reach the second storey,” said Tuaoimaalii Iofi Su’a from Samoa.