Dear friends and contributors, four months ago, on March 13th 2015, Vanuatu was hit by Cyclone « Pam ». Since that day the country has been working and standing to face the great challenge of rebuilding itself relentlessly. Everyone helped their way, some in the field and others by generous support. Without you we could not have done what we did and this is the result of everyone. At ACTIV we committed to help St-Joseph school to rebuild the roof covering two of their classrooms that was blown away that night. Kids were taking classes in shelter tents erected for this purpose. Volunteers have worked over weekends for five weeks and on Saturday 11th July the last screw was finding its place on the new roof. It’s a small piece in a big puzzle and thanks to you, kids will now school in better conditions. It is winter now in Vanuatu and there has been quite a lot of rain recently, turning the shelter tents into humid places and reaching their limits in offering good and dry space to teach and give kids a chance to learn.
ACTIV partnered with Alliance Française of Vanuatu to raise the funds necessary to this project. We thank every person who facilitated our work and contributed to this achievement.
The job undertaken started with the cleaning of what was left from the wood frame supporting the roof and proper evaluation work. As the original design of the frame seemed too weak we decided to re-enforce it before covering with isolation sheet and iron roofing. The carpentry work was undertaken over three weeks (working over weekend time as kids were at school during week days and we didn’t want to disturb them more that they already were, forced to adapt to the precarious situation). Then it took another week-end to cut the iron straps and secure the roof with proper anti-cyclone strapping at every crossing over the frame. 100 meters of iron belt were cut and nailed onto the frame, 3600 nails hammered and finally it was time to roll the isolation layer on the top of it to keep the room as cool as it could be under tropical sunlight. Final stage was to assemble the iron sheets together and cover the whole frame. Iron sheets were anchored in the wood with not less than 700 screws over 100 square meters of roof surface. The reasons supporting our efforts to re-enforce and deliver a roof built according to cyclone standards were motivated by the fact that it welcomes kids underneath every day but also serves as evacuation centre in natural disaster times. Cyclone Pam showed that places identified as evacuation centres were not all built according to modern standards though it was time to rebuild for better safety.
ACTIV team is proud to share a few pictures of the result and thank you for trusting us in delivering support to the communities and people of Vanuatu. Although most of the post cyclone recovery program has now been achieved, we will continue our efforts to facilitate inter-island root crops distribution and food safety program with two boats operating weekly rotations across the archipelago. At the end of the project and with the support of several partners ACTIV will have facilitated the distribution of over 450tons of root crops and about 20tons of material helping the communities to get back into the production of traditional handicraft or into the field harvesting cocoa as their main sources of incomes.
From Vanuatu with love, the ACTIV team.
Further steps into post cyclone recovery, World Vision is generously funding 32 tonnes of root crops and fruits to be distributed with the support of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) to the Shefa and Tafea provinces. The message here is simple, there is no small help and when we sum the efforts we get big results. After the delivery of food and fruits to Merelava, Okenaos sailed back to Santo to collect other 3 tons of root crops, fruits and cuttings supplied by DARD in Santo to deliver to Tongatiki, Emae, Mataso, Buninga and Makira. Then Okeanos sailed to South Malekula to collect 1.2 tons of root crops and fruits that was delivered to Nikaura in East Epi before sailing back to Santo to collect other 3.5 tons that were delivered to Port Quimi in South Epi, Tongoa, Emau and then Nguna. Okeanos sailed last week to North Ambae for another shipment of 3.8 t of root crops that were delivered to 4 villages of South Epi. Another trip is planned next week to North Ambae for another shipment of fruits and root crops.
Coordinated actions between the three NGOs and the DARD would not be possible without tremendous efforts from the communities and ACTIV wants to thank the cocoa producers who arranged the collection of the crops in South West Bay Malekula and South Malekula, the Fanafo Navota Kastom association in Santo and also the women from the North Ambae Women Group. Without this cooperation we would not be able to operate as efficiently and maximise the use of the boat. We have now reached a stage where people are getting back to normal life and most immediate response actions have come to an end, it is critical to ensure there are no communities left aside and everyone has really moved forward in the best conditions.
With your support, we were also able to assist the St Joseph school from the second lagoon, which lost two class rooms with the cyclone PAM. The Alliance Française of Port Vila covered half of the costs of the materials with the timber for the roof structure and the corrugated iron. The materials were delivered this week to the school. We will help the school to rebuild their roof with other parents of the students the coming week end. The students will then be able to go back to their classroom. They are now under a tent.
Other activities were also done with seeds distribution donated by people from New Caledonia. We distributed them to women from the Teouma community. And finally we started this week to re build the ACTIV centre. We received the first hundred natangora leaves from South West Bay in Malekula. We are waiting for other nine hundred leaves. We hope to be able to reopen the handicrafts centre at the end of this month.
We sincerely thank all of you with also Trip advisor and Global Giving for your contributions, which really help us to assist the communities who suffer from the path of the cylcone PAM. We will continue our work with the support of the foundation Okenaos and their boat to reach the most affected communities.
Thank you very much, merci beaucoup, tankyu tumas
The ACTIV team
Local ACTIV and Regional organisation OKEANOS re-connected after cyclone Pam hit Vanuatu a month ago. The two NGOs already worked together in 2012 exploring inter island shipment opportunities using traditional sailing boats, combining low maintenance cost and shallow draft allowing to access all remote islands and shores of the archipelago. Through its branch ACTIV Earth, the local NGO has undertaken several projects providing immediate response and identifying needs for inter island crops and seeds transportation. International aid provided food and mostly rice which is easy to carry and source abroad in large quantities, but it has low nutriment contents in comparison to traditional crops like Kumalas, Taros and Yam.
Since Northern islands were less affected and still had crops available, ACTIV liaised with its community members to see who had the capacity to produce much needed local crops and prepare for shipment from one island to another, feeding the people and regenerating their traditional gardens all in one. The equation is simple; when you buy local crops you support the local economy in one island while assisting another to recover. Rice and imported food were much needed at time of immediate response but we are now working on the mid-term recovery and these are not traditional foods neither growing in Vanuatu.
Knowing OKEANOS in a long time and yet aware of their actions in the Pacific region, it was a clear target for partnership in immediate relief and ACTIV president contacted the OKEANOS who dedicated one of their traditional carrier leaving New-Zealand shore to land in Vanuatu a week later. The first rotation went North collecting 2.5 tons of local crops purchased with funds collected by ACTIV and were distributed throughout the Shepherds Islands en route to Port Vila. OKEANOS Crew were so enthusiast when landing ashore and being welcomed by a Chief in Tongoa who told them how much they needed their traditional food and were fed-up with rice which they are not used to eat.
ACTIV and OKEANOS wish to continue their inter-island actions over a two month period. Inter island transport and logistics are provided for free, we need your support and raise more funds to buy locally available crops and re-build traditional gardens. The Vaka boat has 4 tons loading capacity and will complete one rotation per week with two crews relaying on board. We live and love Vanuatu and we thank you for your incommensurable support.
On the Efate island, ACTIV and OKEANOS teamed together to go around the island in a day trip to distribute non-GMO seeds to the local population to re-grow their gardens and ensure there is some diversity in the crops as well. Vaka Captain coming from the Cook Islands had already a previous experience in Vanuatu and was shocked by the damages on the far East and Northern parts of the island near the villages of Pang Pang, Epule, Ekipe and Onesua, up to Takara where ACTIV Team stopped to check the progression at Paonganisu school. We are now actively raising funds to re-build about 600 square meters of roof taken from the school and teacher’s houses to be re-built from scratch.
You will find attached pictures of the OKEANOS trip to Shepherds Islands and ACTIV Actions on Efate.
Thanks again for your support; we will keep you posted soon on the progression.
Sandrine and Olivier.
Update on ACTIV team's last operation in North Efate.
Following assessment work at Panganisu in North Efate last Tuesday, the team prepared its action plan to bring a school hosting 340+ kids back to operations. Reaching the school early afternoon Wednesday, the first action consisted in building a temporary shelter converted in class rooms for three sections sharing the 60 square meter tent. Since the instruction notice and part of the material were missing, it was a bit challenging but at the end of the day, combined efforts with local community allowed for the impossible. As the day reached its end, the team had also investigated power and water supply issues to fix as well as the material and tools required to re-build a temporary roof until final building is properly planned and starts within a few months time.
On the Thursday it was not less than two teams joining forces to re-build the school. As the men's club was focused on cleaning the bush area and trying to reclaim as much material such as timber, nails and iron straps as possible, the women's club handled the education side achieving a massive job in drying and sorting hundreds of school manuals and books and re-building/arranging the whole library.
Roofing started early afternoon with the reinforcement of the frame and replacement of missing and rotten parts of carpentry. Using the material delivered by Save the Children to cover the roof, the team managed to re-build a water/wind proof roof covering another 4 class rooms, allowing for most kids to come back to school by Monday next week.
Essential services were fixed, the solar panel electricity system was recovered with its iron frame. new concrete blocks were built and two broken panels removed and disconnected before the system was totally rebuilt by our team to provide lighting and power by the sunset time.
On the water side, two big water tanks of 10,000 litres each were re-connected to roof capturing system and field with clear water.
We were all amazed by the motivation of the local community and the work they undertook all day long, relentlessly hammering, cutting and climbing the roof to achieve this big challenge. You guys are hero.
By the night, the school was back in operating conditions, temporary fixed in the waiting for permanent solution to be provided.
I lack words to thank all our friends who put their hands in the dirt today to contribute, each of them in their own way, and support the locals. You guys rock.
Follow our actions in the field in our next report.
The ACTIV team
So far USD 7,300 have been fundraised via Global Giving. We sincerely thank all the donors who support the relief activities for the cyclone PAM. Most of the houses from the communities surrounding the ACTIV Centre have been rebuilt plus or less strongly but the St Joseph school is still used as an evacuation centre for the communities of Teouma and has lost one building with several classrooms for the students of year 4 and 5. We will assist the community to re-build the school.
One representative of ACTIV has also initiated an assessment of the water supply of the Takara area. Their system, which supplied around 500 people from three different villages has been damaged by the cyclone. A list of materials needed to repair has been prepared and we are looking now to get the system working asap.
Our international partner Okeanos (Pacific Voyagers) will send a vaka from New Zealand to assist our members in the islands. The vaka is leaving Auckland in the coming days and will arrive in 10-12 days with some materials. The distribution of food has already started for the islands from the Shefa and Tafea provinces. We expect to use the vaka to also assist the cocoa producers from Epi to rehabilitate their plantations and distribute seeds for the islands to replant the gardens. The first load of seeds arrived from New Caledonia on Friday.
We still haven't managed to reach our members in the islands and get sporadic info from friends or reports from the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO). The cocoa producers from South West Bay (SWB) in Malekula are ok and did not suffer too much for the cyclone such as the Santo producers closed to Luganville. We are still looking to get in touch with the producers from Epi and Central/North Malekula and the handicrafts women's groups from Pentecost, Ambae, Maewo, Tanna, Futuna, Ambrym, Maskelynes, the banks and the shepherds.
And finally the repair of the ACTIV centre is on going with the removal of the damaged roof with the assistance of some volunteers (thanks for their time and energy!). The container is now completely cleared and we will start the building of the roof next week. We will wait for the natangora leaves from SWB. The flooring of the office has been fixed. We are still disconnected from the electricity and have to wait for the restart of the local chocolate production.
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