On January 15, 2022, an underwater volcano (Hunga Ha’apai) erupted near the island of Tonga. The massive explosion coated several of the islands in the Pacific with 3 to 4 inches of ash. The remoteness of Tonga and COVID-19 precautions made it difficult for international aid to reach the island. But relief persists.
Despite the difficulties, Convoy of Hope made a way. Alongside regional partners, Convoy managed to secure supplies and ship them to the island soon after the explosion. The effort has not stopped to make sure people on the island have what they need. Since January, Convoy has supplied more than 140,000 meals to Tonga.
Local partners recently completed distributions in six communities affected by the volcano eruption. One pastor explained that these communities are now permanent disaster zones. “This distribution came at a time when it was truly needed. [It] allowed us to connect not only with the whole community but build relationships with the chief and village elders.”
The eruption didn’t only affect Tonga. Locals on Vanuatu, an island more than 1,000 miles away, heard the massive eruption. Shortly after the sonic boom reached the island, the ocean started receding. When the water came rushing back, the large waves damaged communities along the coast.
One of Convoy’s partners in Vanuatu recently shared this update of a heavily damaged community.
This community watched as the bay that their village is situated on went completely dry. The chief, aware of the coming danger, rushed his village to high ground. Shortly after the ocean returned, it didn’t stop at the shoreline and kept coming ashore. A large wave, over 13.5 feet, swept through the community, taking with it seven houses, two communal kitchens, and many small boats and tools. Fortunately, thanks to the fast thinking of the chief, there was no loss of life.
When we arrived to check on the community, we found the young men working hard to clean out their well. It had filled with salt water, mud, debris, and stones. The chief retold the story of their escape and explained how the food they had left was quickly disappearing. Much of their food supplies and gardens had been swept away. We were eager to help in any way we could after seeing the need.
We reached out to Convoy of Hope. And through their partnership, we were able to provide relief — enough to feed every family for two weeks — in this community and five other areas as they recovered. So thankful to Convoy of Hope for allowing us to meet the needs of this community when they needed it the most.
Despite this disaster happening months ago, Convoy of Hope will continue to deliver hope to survivors of the Hunga Ha’apai eruption. Strong partnerships, committed donors, and hard-working local teams make long-term responses like this one possible.