12 Apr 2020

Women & Children Crisis Centre on Tonga's 'Eua in ruins

3:11 pm on 12 April 2020

A counselling service centre in Tonga is now in ruins due to the coinciding of Tropical Cyclone Harold and a king tide on 9 April.

Offices on 'Eua destroyed by Cyclone Harold

Offices on 'Eua destroyed by Cyclone Harold Photo: supplied 'Ofa Guttenbeil Likiliki

The Women and Children Crisis Centre on the island of 'Eua, was one of a number of connected offices severely damaged by the cyclone.

Digicel, Ministry of Tourism, 'Eua Constituency Office and 'Ofeina Finance have all been destroyed.

WCCC Tonga provided counselling, refuge and advocacy for survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse and child abuse.

The director, 'Ofa Guttenbeil-Likiliki, said the location of the office made it an easy target.

"It was around 7am when the high tide began and the 'Eua branch sits along the shore line."

"No one was inside the office, so no lives were lost and no humans have been injured, but the place has been ripped into pieces by Harold."

There are now only WCCC offices in Tongatapu and Ha'apai, with another soon to open in Vava'u.

Ms Guttenbeil-Likiliki said the 'Eua office opened after Cyclone Gita hit two years ago.

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'Ofa Guttenbeil-Likiliki Photo: RNZI / Koro Vaka'uta

"During the time of Gita, we didn't have an office in 'Eua, yet we could see the dire need for women and children who needed our service in that island.

"That was one of our biggest initiatives coming out of Gita, was opening the 'Eua office."

Ms Guttenbeil-Likiliki would now be going into talks with major donors such as the Australian and New Zealand governments and UN Women to seek funds to rebuild the office.

"The WCCC counsellor in 'Eua is still available over the telephone, as she is working from home and the toll-free number is 0800 444. The Tongatapu branch is also available to help with urgent assistance."

Waterfront offices in 'Eua were destroyed by Cyclone Harold

Waterfront offices in 'Eua were destroyed by Cyclone Harold Photo: supplied 'Ofa Guttenbeil Likiliki