I was recently on a flight to NZ returning from a 3 day fact-finding mission to Vanuatu, assessing the damage following Cyclone Pam’s 300 kph trail of destruction.
Arriving in Vanuatu it was clear the countryside had been decimated – as if by a gigantic lawn mower. Frondless coconut trees, corrugated iron debris and flattened houses everywhere.
My heart sank wondering how so many families would cope without water, food and shelter; hard to express the magnitude of need in words.
My hope was bouyed seeing supplies being offloaded from a C17A Globemaster aircraft by Australia and New Zealand military personnel working in unity. The place was abuzz with activity!
In spite of very few lives lost, the concern now is for the physical health and emotional needs of those on Efate island, as well those on many outlying islands.
Reports from local paramedics indicated some villages in northern Efate had had no water or food for 2 days.
Meeting with the Aust. Aid representative in Port Vila gave us more hope that aid was reaching the outlying islands – thanks to NZ and Aust. naval frigates – but would likely only last a couple of weeks.
Part of the reason I came was to meet Prime Minister Joseph Natuman, which had been planned before Cyclone Pam. Despite the situation he still made time to see us and hear our proposal to partner with them to see their medical and education needs met. The Prime Minister, in principle, gave Marine Reach his support. The Director General indicated he would visit the Ni-Van community in Tauranga NZ and possibly visit Pacific Hope (which caught me by surprise!)
After three full days in Vanutau I left with mixed emotions. But I was also proud our YWAM and Marine Reach staff who showed resilience in the face of this crisis.
Thank you Toni for your continued help with the Pacific Hope’s refit. Soon she will be ministering to our Vanuatu neighbours. Our need for welders, painters and carpenters is great as we approach sailing date. Do you know of someone … how about you? Maybe it’s your turn to take the big plunge!