Rebuilding A Home and Keeping A Family Dry

Aug 14

When Cyclone Ian made landfall on the Ha’apai island group, the storm leveled and swept away buildings and homes, including Vavatau Folau’s.

Vavatau, a SPBD Tonga member since 2012, sold and wove pandanus into handicrafts as well as raised poultry and pigs. Her husband farmed pandanus plants for her business in addition to working as a fisherman. With their businesses they were able to support a family of eight, including three children and three in-laws.

Vavatau’s pandanus crops suffered heavy damage. The storm scattered her chickens and pigs and punched holes in the hull of her husband’s fishing boat.

Seven months on, evidence of the storm’s destruction remain, but rebuilding is apparent and businesses are recovering. Vavatau gathered the pandanus plants still usable for weaving, and she has reestablished a pen for her pigs that eventually made their way back home.

Vavatau took advantage of the SPBD’s Relief Loan Program. She used her new loan to rebuild her businesses as well as to replace her husband’s fishing equipment, which he now uses to fish from the shore while waiting for his fishing boat to be repaired.

Vavatau, like many Tongans, has begun rebuilding her home. The new house is an open structure, but remains dry due to the new corrugated tin bought from the sale of one of her pigs.  She plans to add a proper water tank next.

Despite the arduous work of rebuilding, Vavatau has retained her good cheer and sense of humor. She says she’s glad to have a place for her family to stay that is dry when it rains, adding, with a laugh and pointing to the makeshift outhouse without a roof, “Well, except there.”