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From Salt Lake to Samoa, Church Extends Humanitarian Help

October 2009

Tasi Taola loading supplies Tasi Taola, an airline worker who lost eight family members in the tsunami, works to secure one of dozens of pallets in cargo netting.

A chartered cargo plane loaded with relief supplies has landed in Samoa to aid victims of last week’s tsunami.

"Dozens of villages were completely destroyed, resulting in hundreds of families losing everything," said Elder James J. Hamula of the Church's First Quorum of the Seventy. Elder Hamula, the first counselor in the Pacific Area Presidency, said this shipment is expected to care for 2,000 people for 3-4 weeks.

Seventy-eight pallets containing 60 tons of food, hygiene kits, clothing, wheelchairs and water containers were gathered from the Salt Lake City warehouses of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and placed on a 12-hour charter flight to the Pacific island of Samoa.

The Church was joined by Islamic Relief Worldwide to distribute commodities.

Elder James J. Hamula of the Church's First Quorum of the Seventy Elder James J. Hamula of the Church's First Quorum of the Seventy addresses the media.

"This disaster has taken its toll on many in the region and the support from this airlift will make a difference when it comes to much-needed food and medical supplies," said Mostafa Mahboob, communications director for the Muslim humanitarian organization.

Hamula is expected to travel to the region in the coming days to monitor distribution of the supplies.

On 29 September, the islands of Samoa and part of Tonga experienced an 8.3-magnitude earthquake. Four tsunamis were generated. There were nearly 200 deaths, many more injured and still others unaccounted for.

Associated Press says nearly 90 percent of residents in American Samoa were left homeless and without resources.

"Those in the path of the earthquake find themselves in the hills, living under tarps and have nothing but the clothes on their backs," said Hamula. He said reaching out is a natural extension of doctrinal beliefs.

"We reach out to all who are struggling, rendered homeless and hungry," he said from the tarmac as the DC-10 plane was loaded.

Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles talked of the nature of the Church's humanitarian service in the most recent general conference.

"In all of our stewardship efforts we follow Jesus Christ. We try to emulate what he has asked us to do, both by His teachings and His example."

Airplane and Forklift

This shipment will supplement overall relief efforts, including contributions from the Australian, New Zealand and United States governments.

The Church is also contributing humanitarian aid to ongoing efforts in the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia and Turkey.

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