By Rob Tranter, First Assistant Director General, Pacific Division, AusAID
Two and a half years ago in September 2009, the Tavana family from Saleaumua village in Samoa saw their entire life swept away by one of the worst natural disasters to ever hit the small Pacific nation.
I remember being at the Crisis Centre in Canberra as news of an earthquake that had just struck off the coast of Samoa came flooding in. The 8.3 magnitude quake triggered a huge tsunami that ripped through the southern Samoan island of Upolu.
Saleaumua, on the south coast of Upolu, was one of the worst hit villages. It was completely flattened by the disaster. And while the Tavanas saved all members of their family, they lost their home and all of their possessions while fleeing from the advancing waves.