On March 14, 2015, Cyclone Pam made landfall on the small island nation of Vanuatu, devastating entire communities and leaving much of the nation without access to essential services. Packing winds of up to 250 kilometres per hour, the category-five system caused widespread devastation in Vanuatu’s southern provinces of Shefa and Tafea. Around 75,000 people were left in need of emergency shelter, and 96 per cent of food crops were destroyed. But remarkably, there were just 11 confirmed fatalities. Much of the capital, Port Vila, has been affected, but due to communications being destroyed, it is still unknown the extent of damage in rural areas and outlying islands.
Vanuatu President Baldwin Lonsdale said the storm had destroyed most buildings in the capital Port Vila, including schools and clinics, and left “most” of the 234,000 people in his South Pacific archipelago nation homeless. A state of emergency has been declared and the country is calling for urgent assistance to help reach communities hit by this disaster.
The UAVF has provided initial assistance through sending Personal Care Packs with the kind help of Rotary International. These Personal Care Packs provide basic personal hygiene items to victims of this devastating cyclone. The first batch of Personal Care Packs were packed and sent in the week after Easter, with the highly efficient assistance of our youth volunteer group.