Monday, October 5, 2009

Tsunami: Finding Friends and Family

Thanks to a wonderful Peace Corp volunteer, Sara, you can see a few photo's of my husbands village (click photo) .

Sara and some others kindly went out searching for families. She attempted to find my sister and her 8 children but wasn't able to as my sister had gone way up into the bush (or the forest) out of fear. She's about an hour-n-half walk from the main road that passes through the village. The volunteers did attempt to go up but after seeing people on their way up, they realized it was too far and soon ran into our cousin Tavita and passed on info that we were trying to contact them and even gave them a phonecard!

Compared to photo's of a well known village and beach resort about 20 minutes away this looks amazingly good! This one below absolutely amazes me, you'll notice the ground is completely gouged and the coconut trees are standing by their roots only!!!

This photo is taken by Bryan Russel of Raw Shakti Yoga. They have gone out before international aide arrived to those who had not been helped. Thank you, thank you for helping the unseen! You can see their daily video's if you follow the you tube video below.

We fortunately got to speak to my sister around 4:30 a.m Saturday for over and hour!! It was the best phone call as she even laughed quite abit and all I could do was smile too knowing she could find her laughter in such tragedy!

She's most likely staying in tents like this

(photo by Bryan Russell)

She did however say she is NOT coming back down to what once was her home (although there is nothing left she says anyhow, they lived seaside). We are planning to go to Samoa asap and that lifted her spirits, she said when we come she may go down with us and thats it. We are hoping to be able to build a new house for her, inland of course, we are planning to stay too. It only takes a moment to realize your too far away and life is too short to be apart any longer, it was an quick and easy decision.

She lives about 10 minutes from where (the first photograph by Sara) was taken in Saleaaumua. That photograph happens to be the home of a family who lost their mum. Apparently she thought it was safe after the first wave to return, so she was going back for this van (behind the tree) and her purse. She happened to own a store, so wanted to go back for her money. Unfortunately she did not know there was more waves coming in and lost her life. We are so sorry for her family, our family. (Everyone who lives in the village are related) The head of meteorology stated the first wave came in a 7:20 and the second more destructive one at 7:30.

We also lost several aunties and cousins in our village. We seen their names officially listed on the They had a burial for all, together. Funerals in Samoan culture is an extraordinary communal experience all itself with formal traditions and ceremonies that are not ever taken lightly. To have to have them all as one is not so respectful. Not forgetting that it is also well celebrated by food and considering the circumstances and current lack of the ability to fish, it is in no way normal. They also bury their dead in their yard, usually you will see a well decorated grave marking passing by. I read online that the government will be making a memorial graveyard in the city (Apia). This is also highly unusual for Samoan's to release their dead to others. My sister said the stench of decay was terrible and she was perturbed that some went back down with their children, to stay.

My sisters (brother-in-law) lost his wife and four children to the ocean. My heart completely aches for him.

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