Some communities in Samoa are still very short of fresh water and food more than a month after the cyclone that tore across the island, leaving a trail of destruction that's been compared to a tsunami. Former captain and now hooker, Mahonri Schwalger has been back home to witness the devastation firsthand, and has banded together with other Samoan members of the team to launch an appeal.
Presenter: Geraldine Coutts
Mahonri Schwalger, Waikato Chiefs rugby player
SCHWALGER: A few of the Chiefs guys, we're all from Tamu, all from Samoa, about six of us, so we thought that we given a hand and help them out, through trying to see if we can fundraise and see if we can get some food and water and clothes, sent back to the islands and perhaps that's the least we can do for them, put a smile on their face.
COUTTS: Now Mahonri, I understand it, you've actually been back since Cyclone Evan. What did you see?
SCHWALGER: Oh, I didn't expect it was going to be that bad. So when I got there on my first day, so I had a chance to go around the islands and have a look. So it basically was a flash flood, was a cyclone and including water being flooded and all of the trees been fall on top of the river and all these logs just blogged the way through the bridge and basically the water went back, find its old way, like 100 years ago, and that's where the village people have built their houses around. So that water just flooded and it was just like a war zone round here. So it was pretty bad and I wasn't expecting it to be that bad, so we thought it would be a good time for us to give them a hand.
COUTTS: Well, obviously you spoke to some of the Samoans, the villages that you went through. What did they tell you that they needed most?
SCHWALGER: At this stage, most of them need new water, clean water, and when I was there, I came at the wrong time of the season. It was on, during Christmas and New Years, so basically most of the families didn't have any Christmas or New Years because they lost everything. So we at this stage when I went over there, food and water and clothing, those are the main things that they really needed the moment.
So, some of them are is homeless and they've got nowhere to go and a few families around the village have been taking in few numbers so they can help out.
COUTTS: So how are you going about this fundraising?
SCHWALGER: Oh we went through social media as well and see if the people want to donate anything and anything you think, food, and water and based in the Chiefs community and hopefully they can put something out for to help out.
COUTTS: Alright, well today is the last day of the Appeal. Is that right?
SCHWALGER: Yes, yes, it is.
COUTTS: Alright. So how much have you raised or what have you collected to send over?
SCHWALGER: Oh, well, we've got a lot of canned foods, like and a lot of water as well. There are quite a few things have been sent over by people, the kindness of people, and clothes as well, so there's a lot of things we've got here, so hopefully we can all get together over the next couple of days and send it over.
COUTTS: Alright then. If people want to donate, or contribute food and water, how do they go about it?
SCHWALGER: Oh, there, we've already put it out there. They're going through their Chiefs web site and the address is basically, is based over here in the Chiefs and they can send anything. They can go on their web site and find out the address and they can send it over.
COUTTS: Alright, well how are the Chiefs going to go this season?
SCHWALGER: Oh hopefully, we're going to do well. We've got to extend this part again and the boys have been working really hard the last couple of weeks and hopefully we'll put on another good performance, this year.
COUTTS: Alright now, for people listening, particularly you're friends and family in Samoa. Is there a message you'd like to send them?
SCHWALGER: Oh, there is. I will take this opportunity as well to say thank you to all the people that donated a lot of things and for people of Samoa, hopefully we can send it back and I know we can put a smile on their face and help them out to rebuild their houses and their family as well. So, thank you so much.
COUTTS: OK. Are you also trying to get building materials as well?
SCHWALGER: Yes, anything, anything we can. For people trying to donate money, I think at this stage, we don't need money as long as they can bring in food and those are the main things instead of money.