Anchorage’s Polynesian-American community pleading for donations for Tonga
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Alaska’s Polynesian-American community is starting to hear from loved ones in Tonga more than a week after mother nature left a disastrous mark on the island, and locals with ties to the area are pleading for help.
An undersea volcano erupted on Jan. 15, causing significant damage to the nearby island nation of Tonga and largely cutting its people off from the outside world. People in Alaska with ties to Tonga are trying to figure out what to do to help their loved ones.
“I’m begging you. I’m asking you to help,” said Fehoko Pulu, a representative for the Tongan community. “With your help, we’ll make a difference on our people.”
He still hasn’t heard from his siblings.
“We cannot sleep good at night because (we’re) wondering how they’re doing,” Pulu said.
Pulu said he has an idea of what people on the island are going through right now. He endured a similar situation while living in Tonga in 1982. A cyclone hit the nation that year. That storm is said to possibly be Southern Tonga’s most severe storm in 100 years.
“Standing over here and speak(ing) about my people, I know the feeling. I know it’s hard,” Pulu said.
Lusiana Hansen with the Polynesian Association of Alaska said people in Anchorage can help get Tongans the supplies they need. She said Tongans mostly live on what they provide for themselves. However, after the tsunami, they can’t do what they normally would.
“The water is contaminated. And they don’t have no clothes because it was covered with the ocean with the water coming in and also the ashes,” Hansen said.
On Tuesday, donations were being accepted at a local church. The association is accepting things like canned food, toiletries, shows, clothing and tents.
“They need help, we should help them,” Rina Papalii said as she was sorting through donations.
But the need doesn’t stop there. The association is searching for help, taking a container of donations down to the US West Coast to get it on a ship directly to Tonga.
“If some company would like to donate their driver or their truck, we would like to fill up a container of all these goods and supplies to ship to the island of Tonga,” Hansen said with tears falling down her cheeks.
Hansen said the association is also working with Mayor Dave Bronson’s to see if it can help get the donations to Tonga.
The Polynesian American Association has sent supplies to Tonga before. Hansen said that in 2010, the group collected nearly 50,000 books. They were trucked to California and sent to Tonga by ship.
A library was created with the donation, but Hansen said a different tsunami demolished it a few years later.
Donations can be delivered to:
- 2600 E 16th Ave.
- 2501 Maplewood St.
- 3304 W. 40th Ave.
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