News Release

French Polynesia Rallies Aid for Fiji Cyclone Victims

Church Members answer President Fritch's call to assist fellow islanders

When Cyclone Yasa ravaged the northern islands of Fiji on 17-18 December 2020, it left behind ruined buildings, destroyed crops and destitute families. In the wake of this devastation, the Fijian government issued a call for help to the nations of the Pacific.

On 22 December, Edouard Fritch, President of French Polynesia, offered financial and material assistance and also appealed directly to the people of French Polynesia to donate clothing for the people in the affected areas.

Benjamin Sinjoux, leader for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in French Polynesia, sent a request to the stake presidents located on the island of Tahiti. "I invite all church leaders to urgently encourage their members to take part in this service project."


Members of the Church across the country organized to quickly gather donations. Some members took them directly to local donation centers or to the Presidential palace where efforts were being coordinated by the Tahitian Red Cross.

Geneviève Mana, a member of the church from Pape’ete was interviewed by a TNTV journalist and she said, “The Christmas season is the right time to give, help, share and serve. With Fiji in dire straits, it was the time to show our support and generosity and to give what we can give."

Evelyne Garbutt, president of the women’s organization of the Tepuhapa congregation said, “On December 23, when I heard the call for donation, I sent a text message to all members on 24 December at 4:00 am. Even though it was Christmas Eve, the first bags of clothing started arriving at 6:00 am. and kept coming until 26 December. I was so grateful to see that our members showed that the true Christian virtues of love, generosity, compassion, and service are ingrained in their hearts."

Evelyne Garbutt of the women's organisation, the Relief Society, at the chapel to collect donations for Fiji. French Polynesia, December 2020© 2021 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Donations started pouring in from all over Tahiti, coming from members of the Church along with other religious denominations, associations, local charities and individuals.

So many items arrived that the call went out for more volunteers to help package the clothes before the shipment date to Fiji. Church members came spontaneously to help at the main collection centre on 27 December, working late in the evening to prepare the 500 boxes needed to package everything.

Moea Jourdain, a volunteer from Arue says, “What a privilege to end my Sunday by helping to sort clothes for Fiji. I am grateful for this little moment of work to benefit others."

Many volunteers at the collection center sorting clothes to send to Fiji after deviation caused by Cyclone Yasa. French Polynesia. December 2020© 2021 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

In only six days, five containers were filled with over 40 tons of clothing and materials and were shipped on 28 December to Fiji aboard the ship Tahiti Nui, along with first aid equipment and tools to assist the disaster victims there.

Narii and Rava Maraetafau from Paea participated as both donors and volunteers. “After receiving the invitation to participate, our congregation mobilized immediately,” says Narii. “We are so happy to be part of this great outpouring of the Christmas spirit."

Elder Sinjoux was very moved by what he saw. “With the current pandemic, many people have lost their jobs and families were preparing for the holiday season so we were not sure if anyone would respond. But the French Polynesians showed their usual generosity. Through this remarkable mobilization, we were able to give a Christmas gift of love and hope that sailed on the water to Fiji.”



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