As you might or might not know the beautiful Pacific island nation of Vanuatu has been hit by a category 5 cyclone on Tuesday, April 7th. “Harold” has been one of the strongest recorded storms to ever make landfall on Vanuatu . From what we know so far, not much has been spared by Harold, especially on the northern islands of Vanuatu.
What our connection to Vanuatu is
In 2019, a Wingcopter team spent almost half a year on Pentecost, one of the islands that suffered most. On Pentecost, we did a project together with UNICEF and on behalf of the local Ministry of Health, delivering cooled children’s vaccines to hard to reach places with our Wingcopter drones. Please watch this short video of the project to get an impression of what we did and of how people live there.
During this time, we made a lot of friends and really established emotional ties to these wonderful people who do not have much but who welcomed us with open arms and gave us the impression that we were doing the right things (one of these friends is the local chief nurse Dominique whom you can see at 0:34 in the video above). We became part of the local community. Exactly one year ago, several of our colleagues celebrated Easter in a Church in Melsisi that now has no roof. For some of us Pentecost even became “home” and we were all sad to leave when the project could not be continued late last year (although we hope, now more than ever, to return to Vanuatu soon).
What Pentecost looks like right now
Melsisi, the biggest village on Pentecost and our “home” during the project, has been utterly destroyed as you can see on the images above. These are the only blurry images (shot from a helicopter) we have received so far, as the communication on the island is currently down. The local Mini Hospital, the most developed medical institution of the whole island, seems completely destroyed, just as most other buildings.
Here is a picture of how beautiful and peaceful Melsisi used to be.
What we plan to do
As we have learnt, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, no foreign personnel will be brought to Vanuatu in the current emergency response efforts for the time being. Instead, all help will be organized internally. So, even though we cannot pack our bags, book a flight and go there to personally help, we are committed to help our friends on Vanuatu by other means and we want to levarage our networks to make as much of an impact as possible from the distance.
As we have not been able to reach any of our contacts on Pentecost, we have contacted a good friend of ours in Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu, which seems to be spared by cyclone “Harold”. He will try to get to Pentecost and act as a scout, finding our friends and providing us with detailed information on what is needed most. He also agreed to act as our person of trust, organizing help on site.
In the meantime, we want to collect as much money as possible to help these people get back on their feed again. Our guess is that, right now, building materials and tools to repair and restore the most basic infrastructure, food and medical commodities is what is needed most.
Here is what rather little sums can do already:
– tin roof: 30€/sqm
– 50W solar panel: 30€
– cordless screwdriver: 50€
– electric generator: 200€
– 10kg of rice: 25€
Please donate whatever sum you want or can dispense with. Every donation helps, no matter how small or big, and is highly appreciated. We have started collecting money among all Wingcopter employees, and the motivation to help and give both small and big amounts is overwhelming (2.197€ and counting).
We guarantee that 100 % of the money will be passed on to the people we worked with on Pentecost (minus the small fee of 2,9 % plus 0,25 Euro per donation that gofundme automatically subtracts for providing this platform). We will NOT keep any of this money as administration fees or for any other purposes.
If we should not manage to transfer the money to our local contacts, we will donate the whole amount to Unicef Pacific or another well-respected NGO that is active in Vanuatu.
Also, we want to be as transparent as possible with the actual usage of the donations and will try to post regular updates.