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Where her house once stood

October 7, 2009

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  <span class="field-credit">
    Carol Ward/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Matelana stands with two of her five children on the site where her house once stood in the village of Salesatele, Samoa. Photo: Carol Ward/Mercy Corps

On September 29, a tsunami hit the southeast coast of Samoa. More than a hundred and forty people were killed — for a population of only 185,000 people, that is devastating.

Today I went out with our local partner, South Pacific Business Development (SPBD), to see how their microfinance clients had been affected. I was able to see how the impact of the wave has destroyed the livelihoods of thousands of people — ripping through the lightly-built homes, carrying their possessions away and smashing the fishing boats that were a means of earning income. Many people who earned their living from the tourist trade, by working in hotels or selling products to tourists, have been badly affected because three of the local beach resorts were in the most affected area.

In the village of Salesatele we met with Matelana, mother of five children, on the very spot where —just last week — her house stood. She and many of her neighbors fled for high ground to avoid the rushing waters, but returned to find almost everything they had worked so hard for had been destroyed.

Over the coming weeks, they will be trying to rebuild their homes and their livelihoods. We will be here to help them.