Rebuilding in the wake of Cyclone Pam

News and Press Release
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When Cyclone Pam hit Vanuatu last month, people across the country’s 65 inhabited islands were unprepared for the level of destruction it unleashed. An estimated 90% of all buildings were completely destroyed or damaged and the storm paralysed infrastructure and communications for weeks.

However, ShelterBox is working with aid organisation CARE International on the southerly island of Tanna to help people create temporary shelters and start the long process of rebuilding.

A ShelterBox response team, made up of Jimmy Griffiths (NZ) and Paul Crudgington (UK), are helping to distribute 1,000 shelter kits, which are being shared between communities so that they have access to tools to rebuild not only their homes, but structures like schools as well.

Kalib Willam and her family are some of the people who have received ShelterBox aid. Kalib, her husband and their four children, who are aged between two and nine years old, were planting vegetables when Cyclone Pam hit Middle Bush, Tanna.

The family ran to the local school for shelter, as the building was made of concrete and an iron roof, but as they arrived , the cyclone was ripping the sheets of iron off the roof and sending them flying throughout air.

Realising that they couldn’t shelter in the school, Kalib’s husband led the family to the road where they all clambered down into a storm drain pipe and waited for the cyclone to pass.

Once the storm was gone, they returned to find that their house, along with all of their crops, had been destroyed. It will take another six months before their crops, their main source of food and their livelihood, will be ready again.

Kalib told the team that when they they went back to see how the school had fared, they were amazed by the level of destruction. While the head teacher is trying to fix the school, many of the teachers have left the area and now there are 280 students and 20 preschool children, including Kalib’s own children, without anywhere to learn. They have no idea when the school will be repaired, as the government hasn’t yet been able to visit to assess the damage.

At the moment, children spend their days helping their parents to clear up the mess left behind by Cyclone Pam as they attempt to rebuild their homes again.

Kalib and her husband had rebuilt their home from the remains of their former house, along with fallen leaves from their banana crops. Now though, they have been able to keep their family dry and safe from the rain with tarpaulin and other materials provided by ShelterBox.

Kalib said: ‘The cyclone came to us, but all the people with good hearts have also come to help us.’

With the help of CARE International, our ShelterBox response team has been able to provide aid to more than 1,000 families in the area of Middle Bush and is now about to start working in the eastern area of White Sands.

A container of aid, including additional tarpualins, blankets and mosquito nets, is also making its way to the island. The team will be using the tarpaulins to make temporary repairs to school buildings, so that young people, like Kalib’s children, will be able to continue their studies and gradually return to normal.