“I have never been so scared in my life,” said 45-year-old Viaru. The mother of four broke down in tears as she recalled her terrifying experience during Cyclone Harold, the Category 5 storm that tore through the Vanuatu archipelago on 6 April leaving around 100,000 people without shelter.
Viaru continued, “We moved into the kitchen because our house is concrete, and we believed the huge space in there would be a good place for us to wait out the storm.”
Viaru, who is paralysed from the waist down, said, “I was so scared when the roof of the house started to fly off because it was the safest place I knew and now it was being torn apart.”
Viaru’s children and family moved her in her wheelchair to a safer place until the storm passed. Shelter was still a problem though as not only had roofs and walls been damaged, but there was debris everywhere, which made it very uncomfortable for Viaru and her family.
Emotionally, she told the World Vision distribution team, “I am still a bit shaken, but seeing how you have stepped up and thought of us in this great time of need means so much, that I don’t know what to say.”
Viaru and her family plan to use the shelter kit to provide a safe, dry place for them to live while they repair the damage to their home.
Kendra Gates Derousseau, World Vision Vanuatu Country Director, said, “Although it is a difficult time for all those affected by the cyclone, World Vision is prioritising reaching the most vulnerable households, like Viaru’s, to provide them with the necessary items to make vital repairs to their homes.”
Viaru’s family is one of 187 vulnerable, cyclone-affected households who have received desperately needed relief items so far. World Vision supported the Sanma Provincial Emergency Operations Centre and the National Disaster Management Office to distribute shelter kits, which include tarpaulins, a shovel, saw, bush knife, hammer and nails. The relief items and distribution were funded by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, through the Australian Humanitarian Partnership.