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.
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.
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.
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