Published on 21st December 2012
Samoa-based volunteers Glenn and Sharyn Cant will return to the village of Poutasi to resume their assignments in late December, after Cyclone Evan saw them taking an unexpected Christmas break in New Zealand.
The Cants flew back to New Zealand after Cyclone Evan damaged their house and cut off their power and water supplies. According to Glenn, they left because they did not want to be a burden to the people of Poutasi in the immediate aftermath of Cyclone Evan.
“We felt we’d be more of a hindrance than help – we didn’t want people to feel they had to look after us and feed us when they had so much to do themselves.”
They’re now keen to get back and start helping with the rebuilding process. For Glenn, that means starting his assignment all over again – the cyclone destroyed all the crops he and members of the Poutasi Farmers’ Association had planted as part of a new scheme to supply high-end vegetables to local hotels and resorts.
Apia-based volunteers Doris and Achim Brinkmann and Ken Wong are staying in Samoa over Christmas, though they are not yet sure how they will celebrate in the badly damaged capital. In the meantime, they are already back working on their assignments with Farmers’ Samoa and the Scientific Research Association of Samoa.
“Carrying on with their assignments is all part of the rebuilding process for Samoa,” says VSA’s Country Programme Manager for Polynesia, Junior Ulu. “The organisations our volunteers are working with really want to keep on going with their projects, and doing that is important for Samoa’s long-term future.”
Christmas is shaping up to be a more cheerful occasion for the volunteers outside Samoa. Some are travelling to see family in New Zealand or elsewhere, while many of those who are staying in-country are planning to get together for shared Christmas meals. Several volunteers have diving trips planned, while those who have only recently arrived in Timor-Leste will take the chance to explore areas outside of Dili.
* The VSA office closes on Friday 21 December and will re-open on Monday 7 January.