From Marl­bor­ough to Van­u­atu, with love

Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough - - FRONT PAGE - SO­PHIE PREECE

‘‘There’s no wharf on Tanna, and noth­ing re­sem­bling a fork­lift. ’’

The Marl­bor­ough Med­i­cal Cen­tre is one step closer to help­ing the peo­ple of Tanna, af­ter two 20-foot con­tain­ers full of do­nated goods ar­rived on the re­mote Van­u­atu is­land.

An ap­peal was launched by the Marl­bor­ough Dis­trict Coun­cil, wine in­dus­try staff and Cross­roads Marl­bor­ough af­ter Cy­clone Pam in March this year.

That saw $40,000 worth of goods loaded in a 40ft con­tainer and shipped to Port Vila.

Jono Bushell of Marl­bor­ough con­tract­ing com­pany Vinepower, said the con­tainer landed in Port Vila in July, but could not be de­liv­ered to the is­land un­til this month.

‘‘There’s no wharf on Tanna, and noth­ing re­sem­bling a fork­lift. We trans­ferred all the goods into two smaller con­tain­ers, so they could be shipped. Then we had to wait four weeks to get them de­liv­ered, be­cause of the back­log of freight on the wharf, due to aid ship­ments to the is­land.’’

Jono con­tracts em­ploy­ees from Tanna Is­land for work in Marl­bor­ough, and is also a co-owner of Tanna-based co­conut oil com­pany Tanna Farms. He lives six months of each year in Van­u­atu, and was there dur­ing and af­ter Cy­clone Pam, see­ing first-hand the dev­as­ta­tion it brought.

He said when the ship even­tu­ally ar­rived at Tanna’s cap­i­tal, Le­nakel, he and his staff carted much of the cargo to shore by hand, in­clud­ing roof­ing iron, bags of ce­ment and tim­ber, to re­duce the weight.

Aus­tralian Justin Leary put jockey wheels un­der the con­tain­ers to tow them off, de­spite one con­tainer be­ing the wrong size and the other one bent out of shape, said Bushell.

‘‘There’s no shop here to buy what you need, so we pulled out do­nated stuff, like a sledge ham­mer, bear­ings and chain, and made it work.’’

The con­tain­ers and their cargo were trucked to a site 15 kilo­me­tres from Le­nakel, where they will be­come the core of a new med­i­cal cen­tre, al­low­ing peo­ple on the western side of Tanna Is­land ac­cess to health care nearby, in­stead of walk­ing up to a day to get to the hos­pi­tal in Le­nakel.

Jono said many of the ma­te­ri­als do­nated would be used to build the med­i­cal cen­tre, which would ben­e­fit the is­land at large. An ul­tra­sound in the do­nated goods has been given to a hos­pi­tal in Port Vila.

The Marl­bor­ough Med­i­cal Cen­tre will be set up by mis­sion­ary Philippe Pinero of CSL Van­u­atu.

Ap­peal co-or­di­na­tor Lind­say Parkin­son said con­sid­er­able funds had been used to freight the build­ing sup­plies and con­tainer.

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