On behalf of the Solomon Islands National Council of Women, National NGO Body for Women of Solomon Islands, I would like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to the Board and staff of Global Fund for Women, remembering women of Solomon Islands especially the women and children in the Western and Choisuel Provinces that were badly hit by the tsunami.
In last couple of days my office was trying to contact our women in the two provinces, however we could not get through to them because of telecommunication cut offs. So far there were twenty-four people confirmed dead and thousands are homeless. People were also injured and among them were the husband of Mrs. Hilda Kari the current President of the Solomon Islands National Council of Women. According to different reports, people are still searching for missing people. Among the deaths were elderly women who could not escape. People were so focused on rescuing their families. People who have escaped to higher grounds do not want to come down to their homes, fearing that another tsunami may strike again.
The SI National Council of Women in its capacity had sent a message of solidarity and condolences to the women of both Western and Choisuel Provinces. It is very difficult to tell exactly what is happening to our women in the two affected areas because of the geographical setup of Solomon Islands. All the places that were affected could only be reached by plane or by boat. Gizo town, the most attractive town for tourists is down. The airstrip was badly destroyed.
One of the crucial areas that the Council is focusing at critically is the psychological effect that the Tsunami is having on women, girls and children. Trauma Counseling must take place immediately in the most affected areas. The SI National Council of Women has women who are trauma counselors, however to get them down there is very difficult
If this is possible for women to get down there to the most affected areas then they can also work with women leaders to see what can be done in terms of rebuilding and reorganizing devastated communities.
Right now assistance is forthcoming both from local and international, but the focus is more on food, clean water, medicine supplies, tents, clothes etc.
There was an NGO meeting that was held on the 3rd April on what NGOs can do. The SI National Council of Women its present capacity cannot assist with material things, but can offer trauma counseling to women, girls who may have lost their loved ones as well as their properties.
I think that is all I can provide regarding information on the tsunami.
Thank you very much for thinking of us at this very difficult time. Ella Kauhue is the General Secretary of the Solomon Islands National Council of Women, a Global Fund grantee.