A thou­sand smiles on Epi is­land

When Cy­clone Pam hit, it was a long and hor­ri­fy­ing for the peo­ple of epi is­land. in the af­ter­math, Com­mu­ni­ties are slowly

Island Life - - Vanuatu Dining Guide -


Story by Pa­tri­cia Gil. Phtography by Pa­tri­cia Gil and cour­tesy of Save the Chil­dren.

Or­gan­i­sa­tion Save the Chil­dren has been un­der­tak­ing projects to help the peo­ple of Epi get back on their feet. Based in Van­u­atu since 1984, the not­for-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion im­ple­ments a com­pre­hen­sive pro­gram through­out the coun­try fo­cus­ing on the ar­eas of child and ma­ter­nal health, pri­mary health care, early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion and child pro­tec­tion, and links com­mu­nity based re­sults into pro­vin­cial and na­tional level ini­tia­tives. Af­ter the cy­clone, it was ‘all hands on deck’ to de­vise and de­liver im­me­di­ate emer­gency aid re­sponse and post-cy­clone re­cov­ery plans. Bring­ing in tech­ni­cal spe­cial­ists in the ar­eas of WASH, Food Se­cu­rity and Liveli­hoods (FSL), Health, Ed­u­ca­tion, Shel­ter and Child Pro­tec­tion and re­cruit­ing an ex­tra 41 na­tional staff, the or­ga­ni­za­tion set up projects and de­liv­ered emer­gency aid to the cy­clone af­fected ar­eas in the coun­try. In part­ner­ship with the NDMO and var­i­ous min­istries, they de­liv­ered emer­gency food ra­tions, build­ing equip­ment, tools, pri­mary health train­ing and ed­u­ca­tion kits to the is­lands of Am­brym, Efate and its off­shore is­lands, Epi and Ton­goa.


Save the Chil­dren has also pri­or­i­tized the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of com­mu­nity wa­ter sup­plies and re­con­struc­tion of some of the de­stroyed aid posts and schools. On Epi, Save the Chil­dren de­ployed field man­ager Ben Brook­man and a team of ded­i­cated na­tional staff to su­per­vise re­lief aid and re­cov­ery projects on the is­land. “The first pri­or­ity af­ter the cy­clone was to de­liver wa­ter, san­i­ta­tion kits, and other es­sen­tial items to the com­mu­ni­ties,” ex­plains Ben. Ginette Mor­ris, staff mem­ber, ex­plained how Save the Chil­dren de­liv­ered over 1,100 tar­pau­lins and hun­dreds of plas­tic buck­ets to al­low

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Ben Brook­man, Taku Ben and chil­dren at the new kinder­garten. Taku Ben and Henry Orah at Ngala school. Van­u­atu He­li­copters

Vil­lagers carry ce­ment up the hill to the wa­ter catch­ment. peo­ple al­ter­na­tive wa­ter col­lec­tion as well as tools and kitchen kits to start re­build­ing. Based at El­cress Agra Prod­ucts Co­conut Oil Mill in east Epi, the Save the Chil­dren staff have been su­per­vis­ing post-cy­clone re­cov­ery projects in sev­eral vil­lages. “The help from El­cress has been in­valu­able for us in that they’ve pro­vided us with a base, in­clud­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion, stor­age fa­cil­i­ties and online com­mu­ni­ca­tion that al­lowed us to get these projects off the ground ef­fi­ciently,” ex­plained Ben. T he cy­clone de­stroyed the crops, dam­aged the wa­ter catch­ment struc­tures and con­tam­i­nated the wa­ter sources of most of Epi, af­fect­ing thou­sands of peo­ple. The vil­lages of Mate and Ngala rely on a moun­tain­top spring wa­ter catch­ment for their re­spec­tive wa­ter sup­plies. The cy­clone de­stroyed the spring wa­ter sup­ply, cut­ting off wa­ter from the two vil­lages and the lo­cal dis­pen­sary. Save the Chil­dren en­listed lo­cal builder and com­mu­nity leader Kerry Wil­liam to su­per­vise the re­pair and con­struc­tion of the new wa­ter catch­ment. “There are no rivers next to the vil­lages and the wa­ter source is a few hours walk up the hill, so af­ter the cy­clone we had no way of get­ting drink­ing wa­ter,” Kerry ex­plained. “All we could do is dig the ground next to the shore to try to find some but the wa­ter here is also con­tam­i­nated by the salt wa­ter.” San­dra Din, another staff mem­ber, worked with com­mu­nity mem­bers to re-



The new wa­ter catch­ment. Taku Ben, Henry Orah and Ben Brook­man in­side the new kinder­garten. De­liv­er­ing buck­ets for al­ter­na­tive wa­ter col­lec­tion.

af­ter-ef­fects.” The New Zealand Army re­paired the roof and in­ter­nal walls of the school and Save the Chil­dren pro­vided learn­ing ma­te­ri­als and toy kits for the school to be able to open up again. “We lost all our crops,” ex­plained Henry. “Our main in­come comes from co­pra, co­coa, weav­ing hand­i­crafts and sales of our veg­etable gar­dens. All this was de­stroyed by the cy­clone so the vil­lage right now does not have any pos­si­bil­ity of gen­er­at­ing cash. We have all started to plant peanuts, which have a three month turn-around but this is the only crop at the mo­ment and if it wasn’t for the help of or­ga­ni­za­tions such as Save the Chil­dren and the New Zealand Army, I don’t know how long it would have been be­fore we had the ma­te­ri­als and money to re­build the school. We are im­mensely grate­ful for their help,” he added.

Ndo­nated by the World Food Pro­gram landed in Epi reach­ing a to­tal of 7,423 peo­ple. The cargo was shipped from Santo to be de­liv­ered across the whole of Epi Is­land. “Our ini­tial as­sess­ment told us how many house­holds there were in ev­ery vil­lage and how many peo­ple in each house­hold. With these num­bers, we were able to al­lo­cate the right amount of food to each area and vil­lage to make sure that the dis­tri­bu­tion was eq­ui­table and reached ev­ery­one in­clud­ing those most vul­ner­a­ble,” ex­plains Ben. “We en­listed the help of the LC Sab­rina as well as the coastal barge to de­liver the food to each coun­cil area. To­gether with the NDMO and VMF mem­bers (Van­u­atu Mo­bile Force), we de­liv­ered the cargo to main ports in each of the four coun­cil ar­eas. Once in the port, the food was dis­trib­uted by truck to each vil­lage where it was stored in the com­mu­nity naka­mal or church. Each com­mu­nity had a list of its res­i­dents and each per­son could then come for­ward to re­ceive their al­lo­ca­tion,” Ben ex­plains. Na­tional staff Kal­tom James and Gwen Ay­ong said they learned a lot from the ex­pe­ri­ence. “The full de­liv­ery took us a week, in rough seas. It was a lo­gis­tic feat, con­sid­er­ing that food had to be trans­ported in barges and quickly un­loaded and kept dry from the ocean and rain. There was a small win­dow of weather when barges could off­load and we re­ally pushed the com­fort lim­its here to make sure the food got where it needed to. We all came to­gether and it was an out­stand­ing ex­am­ple of gov­ern­ment, NGO and com­mu­nity work­ing to­gether in a con­certed and or­ga­nized ef­fort to de­liver the aid suc­cess­fully.” Ben re­flected on how this type of work brings peo­ple to­gether in a com­bined ef­fort, “Re­spond­ing to a dis­as­ter in an iso­lated area with poor trans­port and lim­ited com­mu­ni­ca­tion is hard work. Things take time as it is weather de­pen­dent and for ex­am­ple, when it rains, roads are no longer pass­able. It is lo­gis­ti­cally very com­pli­cated as ev­ery­thing must come from else­where and be trans­ported. So things take time but even­tu­ally, ev­ery­thing gets done, the is­land way, slowly but surely”.

For fur­ther in­for­ma­tion con­tact Kevin Apsepa +675 73498523 or kapsepa3@gmail.com.

goroka, Pa­pua new guinea, 12th to 14th septem­ber. one of the most fa­mous and ex­cit­ing of the high­lands cul­tural shows, the goroka show has been held ev­ery septem­ber since 1957, at­tract­ing over 1000 tribes­men and women rep­re­sent­ing over 70



The Goroka Show, PNG. Photo cour­tesy of Fur­ther Arts.

con­fer­ence with the theme ‘ trad­ing tra­di­tions: The role of art in the Pa­cific’s ex­pan­sive ex­change net­works’ at the Fa’onelua Con­fer­ence Cen­tre in nuku’alofa. For cen­turies in the Pa­cific, even be­fore euro­pean ar­rival, there have been phys­i­cal as well as so­cial, eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal ex­changes and in­ter­ac­tions be­tween Pa­cific is­lands and cul­tures via peo­ple, ob­jects, tech­nolo­gies and ide­olo­gies. This con­fer­ence seeks to ex­plore how art has been part of these ex­changes, mov­ing across time and through com­mu­ni­ties, and how it has been in­flu­enced through the process.


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