Last week I was driving home from Salelologa and all I could see was the smoke from the fires. Every village we passed was being plagued by forest fires…it was insane. I knew that Savaii was struggling with wildfires due to the lack of rain for the past several months, but I didn’t think it had gotten that bad.
There is a fire brigade in Savaii, but many of the fires are far away from the main road that the fire fighters are unable to reach them. This duty falls on the men of the village. They can spend all day making the lines to try to fight this fire, while hoping it does not reach their family’s houses that are nearby.
I was told by someone that many people had gone to their plantation and realized their whole plantation was aflame and lost all of their crops. This means all of their food. Unlike people elsewhere, these people do not have a steady income and rely on this food for survival, which is a huge blow, and the importance of neighbors extremely important.
Another devastating loss is a school burnt down, which means that school is forced to have school in village houses like we are currently doing.
Some villages had run out of water as well, and I am surprised we haven’t since the dryness was so bad it was making my skin break out in rashes.
Thankfully, October starts the rainy (cyclone season) and for the past 5 days we have had rain 3 of those days. I hope the rain continues so these fires and other health problems will end.
(Pictures are from one of the forests that burnt down months ago)