Red Cross says will work with government over Ha'apai rebuild
The head of Tonga's Red Cross says two new houses built on cyclone devastated Ha'apai are part of a pilot project but if the government is not happy to go ahead with more homes the agency will refocus.
The head of Tonga's Red Cross says two houses just completed on Ha'apai following January's Cyclone Ian are part of a pilot project and he says the NGO will work with the government to help the devastated community.
Earlier this week Tongan media reported the government as saying the organisation does not have a permit to carry out the reconstruction work which had aimed at building 200 temporary homes.
But the General Secretary of the Red Cross in Tonga, Sione Taumoefolau, told Jenny Meyer he's happy with the work they've done.
SIONE TAUMOEFOLAU: We completed today two of our core houses. So in that regard we have given it to one of the most vulnerable people on the island of Mo'unga'one. One family they have about three disabled there. And the other family, the other house was given to another disability family.
JENNY MEYER: And what's been happening with the government and the regulations around building these houses? We understand there's been some controversy there?
ST: I just want to make sure here, we are not trying to go against the government. But we try to help those people who need it. So disability is one of our focusses at the moment. So like I said these two families who are receiving today the core houses, they are disabled people and not only that but there are a lot of lessons learnt.
JM: What are your plans now in terms of construction there on Ha'apai?
ST: We'll see if there are any possibilities for the government still allow us to move on with what ever amount we have collected from their donors individually here in Tonga or overseas, the Tongan communities overseas, whatever they want to contribute any money we will continue on to implement and build those houses or the core houses for the vulnerable people on Ha'apai.
JM: So you'll be working with the government in terms of going ahead will you?
ST: We are still working together with the government to alleviate those people's suffering from the cyclone.
JM: And I'm sure they're very grateful are they?
ST: Yeah I'm sure they are very grateful. I think it's only a minor misinterpretation of what we are doing here. Because one of these projects that we finished today, it's a kind of pilot project; and how we build this one and the materials, lessons learnt, this is the main purpose of this one. So what ever the outcome of this implementation of these two houses, core houses, it gives us more thought and makes sure it will make fast, how many days it takes to build; these are the kind of pilot activities that we are doing at the moment.
JM: So in terms of how the Red Cross views it, you're feeling that it's all gone well and you're happy with the safety and the construction of the houses are you?
ST: We are happy with what we've been doing. But I'd like to share this one with the government. And if they say this, to suspend it, we will pull out from activity like this. We will spend our activities may be on a health issue or some other activity on Ha'apai.
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