OCEANIA/ SOLOMON ISLANDS - Efforts continue to assist people affected by earthquake and tsunami: Caritas supplies material and spiritual comfort

Friday, 27 April 2007

Honiara (Agenzia Fides) - A month since the earthquake and tsunami disaster efforts continue to provide assistance to the affected people even now that the emergency appears to have disappeared from international news.
Fides received information from the two local Bishops. Archbishop Adrian Smith from Honiara the capital writes: “Caritas is doing a good job to help the stricken people with moral, material and spiritual aid. Some remote areas are still difficult to reach and this is the main problem. People are still afraid of another earthquake. In Gizo one of the worst hit areas teams of trauma specialists are working to dispel the peoples anxiety. There has been a marvellous show of solidarity from all over Solomons and the rest of the world. The arrival of the WYD08 Cross was a means of helping the youth of the Diocese to a better understanding of the suffering and pain they are enduring is part of the continuing suffering of Christ in his Church. It was truly an occasion for the youth to deepen their faith and hope. It is true that we are no longer front page news but the work of rebuilding must continue. The encouragement and aid received so far has been wonderful. Other dioceses in the Pacific have sent offerings in money ”.
Bishop Bernard O’Grady of Gizo was able to visit some of the affected areas by helicopter: “ Most of the people who lost homes and possessions are being fed and clothed and provided with other necessities lost during the tidal wave that followed the major earthquake. At first it was difficult to find out the extent of the damage suffered by the people and because many are still listed as missing. Fortunately our radio network was able to contact most them and thereby find out their situation. An American Naval Vessel provided two helicopters to take urgent medical supplies to clinics that had either been destroyed or lost their supplies. On one such trip I was able to visit two Parishes and see for myself the extent of the damage and meet the priest and people. There will be a huge amount of work to restore to normality the pastoral work of the Church. Also the people will take quite a while to overcome their fear of such a large earthquake and tsunami. For that reason many are still living in temporary accommodation in the bush under tarpolines and without adequate supplies of water and medicines. This is now improving as agencies such as Red Cross, and World Vision and especially Caritas have been able to move in to meet their needs. The next stage will be finding ways and means of preparing simple housing for them. Some in fact have already began to do this. Please remember us in your prayers as we move forward to a new life born of the suffering we have endured together. It has certainly brought the people closer together. Again thank you for your concern". (PA) (Agenzia Fides 27/4/2007