Lending a helping hand for Tonga

In recent years, the small island of Vava’u, Tonga, has suffered devastating destruction. From cyclones in 2014 and 2018, to a volcanic eruption, subsequent tsunami and ash fall in 2022, the people of Vava’u were in need of a helping hand.

Answering the calls for assistance was Rotary Australia, including active members Sandy and Sani Vea from the East Maitland Rotary Club, who call the island of Vava’u their native home. Originally enquiring via the radiation oncology department, Sandy and Sani requested donations of repurposed medical and educational equipment for Tongan hospitals and schools.

Acting Clinical Nurse Consultant for Oncology, Casey Hutchinson, Director of Mission Integration, Kellie Goldsworthy, and the support services team, including Darrin Jenkins, Hayden Linich and Corey Pepperall, were keen to lend a hand. And so, they set to work.

With plenty of hope and an empty truck, Sandy and Sani arrived at Calvary Mater Newcastle in early July. According to Casey Hutchinson, they were overwhelmed by the response.

The Support Services team helped them load the truck with wheel chairs, beds, commodes, blood pressure machines, bandages, bed side tables, walking frames, recliners, crutches, walking sticks, and various other medical equipment, that were no longer able to be used within the hospital.

“Sandy was emotional with the generosity and support shown by Calvary Mater Newcastle staff,” Casey said.

“Every donated item could be used or repurposed. It was truly one of the most rewarding projects that I have had the opportunity to participate in here at the Mater.”

Before leaving, Sandy talked passionately about her home town to Casey, and what a positive impact the donations will have on the local community of Vava’u.