Andrew Baker, a long-standing volunteer with Habitat for Humanity Northern Region and Global Village shares his experiences with us about the Tonga rebuild. “After the volcanic eruption and subsequent devastating tsunami in 2022, I wanted to help in some way so when I heard that the Legacy Build Tonga Hunga Earthquake Tsunami build was starting, It was a no brainer. I had to volunteer and return.”
“My connection to Tonga goes back to 2019 and 2020, where I worked with Volunteer Service Abroad in Tonga on a project, guiding the Tonga Institute of Technology 3rd year students to install over 80 water tanks, and develop the families’ knowledge of how to keep the water clean even in the annual cyclone season conditions.”
“When I got to Tonga this time, I was struck by the large number of homes that are badly damaged or completely gone and the number of businesses that are struggling. A sobering reminder that for many in Tonga the eruption and Tsunami are still having very real consequences.”
Habitat for Humanity has partnered with Home and the Tongan Institute of Science and Technology (TIST) to help rebuild eight homes in Tonga following the disaster. The organisations are also working together to find ways Build Back Safer (BBS) training can be delivered to community participants.
“All members of the team are highly skilled in the construction industry including planning and safety management, qualified builders, electricians and business administrators. All of the foundation preparation was completed by the year 1-3 carpentry students at the Tonga Institute of Technology (TIST), who really benefitted from the teams’ skills and experience”, said Andrew.
“Three of the eight homes have now been completed and dedicated, with three others built and being barged to Ha’apai, with the last two still under construction. In the week I was there we were able get one of the last two completely framed up, roof on and 90% completed. This home is sitting at water level so ensuring it remains above the tide mark will mean it stays dry and habitable for years to come.”
“I found it humbling to be working on this project, the team are highly skilled and the students are so eager to learn and help build their own communities back.”