Today, April 13 marks the one month anniversary of Cyclone Pam decimating my island home of Vanuatu. Coincidentally, tomorrow will mark one year since I arrived in Vanuatu to make this beautiful country my home and join the World Vision Vanuatu team.
It’s hard to believe that one month ago I was barricaded in a dark room listening to my adopted country being ripped apart by winds that sounded like an angry ocean and rain that pelted down like someone playing the drums.
But over the past month I’ve realised that while Cyclone Pam showed the worst of Mother Nature, she also brought out the best of human nature.
I’ve realised that while Cyclone Pam showed the worst of Mother Nature, she also brought out the best of human nature.
In the first days after Cyclone Pam I sat with women on the top of what was once their market houses having lost the only opportunity they had to earn a small amount of money.
I stood with children in their year nine classroom that resembled a rubbish tip.
I spoke to families living in evacuation centres with no-where to call home after Cyclone Pam picked up their corrugated iron huts as if they were confetti and twisted them into unrecognisable bits of debris.
In just one month I’ve seen a country that was flattened to the ground rise to meet the greatest of challenges.
Last week, I watched as women moved into makeshift markets while tourists cruise ships started to dock in Port Vila for the first time since Cyclone Pam.
I have shared smiles with children walking to and from school.
I have spoken to the most grateful families as World Vision distributed essential household items like kitchen sets and hygiene kits – families who lost everything during Cyclone Pam– and the simplest of items like cooking pots and soap are making a big difference to their long recovery.
World Vision is working to ensure that families get the support they need for today and also well into the future.
And it is going to be a long recovery.
While leaves are starting to sprout, children are back at school and homes are starting to be rebuilt, Cyclone Pam was the biggest disaster to ever hit Vanuatu.
Families and communities need long term solutions to long term problems – and World Vision is working to ensure that families get the support they need for today and also well into the future.
Villages that were wiped to the ground need more than just tarpaulins to patch them up and World Vision is working to make sure people know how to re-build using traditional local materials and building supplies in the best possible way to reduce damage in future cyclones.
Families who lost their crops need more than just immediate access to rice and tinned fish and World Vision has been distributing the tools people need to re-establish their gardens.
It’s been one month since Cyclone Pam destroyed this country and the recovery process will take more than a year. Though it will be challenging this small country has shown big courage, and while life in paradise has changed for now, I have no doubt that with the support shown from the global community and resilience of the Vanuatu people it will be paradise once more.