Last year our involvement in the medical outreach program in Vanuatu took an unexpected turn. In March 2015 a conference was held in the capital Port Vila to co-ordinate everyone’s efforts for the upcoming year. A few hours into the conference Cyclone Pam hit the island chain. The conference attendees were ushered to cyclone shelters where they waited while Cyclone Pam wreaked devastation throughout the island. Our update to volunteers after the event tells the story.
The cyclone destroyed houses, food crops and livelihoods. After the cyclone came through a drought then followed (particularly in the South) making re-establishing food crops very difficult. Sadly, our volunteer Doctor witnessed several child deaths from starvation.
Unfortunately, the medical program for 2015 was cancelled and all efforts were then directed at rebuilding. There are many stories of heroic efforts during this time with one example being the contribution made by Ken Short. Our boat was not ready to go to Vanuatu, however a boatie friend we made during the 2013 trip stepped up to the task, along with his rather large ocean going motor boat called the Trinity Castle. Ken took on board a huge quantity of donated goods from Australia and for 3 months sailed around the islands providing assistance. Amazingly he was able to offer a portable saw mill! He would arrive at a village and finding large trees uprooted and lying on the ground, he then offered the use of the saw mill. The formerly giant obstacles lying in the village turned into beautiful planks of timber, ready for rebuilding houses in the village.
There are other stories, some of which are told in the links below. Check out the best public toilet in the South Pacific!