Aid has still not reached some in Vanuatu
A New Zealand resident ni-Vanuatu woman returns to Vanuatu for the first time since it was hit by Tropical Cyclone Pam more than two months ago.
A New Zealand resident ni-Vanuatu woman, who has returned to Vanuatu for the first time since it was hit by Tropical Cyclone Pam, says she was shocked to see locals still waiting for aid from the government to help rebuild their homes.
It's been more than two months since the cyclone destroyed homes and infrastructure, leaving 11 dead and affecting the majority of the 252,800-strong population of Vanuatu.
Lisa Murgatroyd brought aid donations from the Auckland ni-Vanuatu community and her local church.
She spoke to Indira Moala about how different the country looked since the last time she visited.
Lisa Murgatroyed: I think the biggest difference to me, it's pretty much the housing. I've never seen anything like that, since growing up. Houses that are built in a very good condition - it can't stand the cyclone. I mean, I just heard it on radio and see clips of pictures from here and there. But it took me a lot just to swallow it down and I thought, oh wow. This little nation is totally damaged, it's badly badly hit.
Indira Moala: And what's the general feeling like in the community? Have you been talking to people? How are people feeling now that they're trying to recover?
LM: Yeah, people are getting back into their gardens and they're starting to re-plant so that's pretty good. But in terms of the relief support, I guess what I can tell you is, I'm not too sure whether the distribution was fair but yesterday, I was talking to a couple of people that work in the bank - their houses were blown away and they're still waiting for their tarpaulins. They said 'well you have to go through the Director and see him and talk to him' and I just said, how ridiculous is it - you have to fill out a form. And so that's the thing is that, people can't even fill up a form and they're really in need. I just thought well, how can we do this? You can tell - the houses, some of them have been like - the roof, people can't even afford to put up timber - they just have to abandoned the house. Yeah, I don't know where these families are living. Because there's so many abandoned houses and there's no one. This is like government properties, they're just sitting there.
IM: And are the people feeling like the government isn't responding?
LM: I think people have just had enough of the government system really. That's what it is to my understanding when you talk to them. So why do we have to be bothered with them? We just have to carry on with life.
IM: Can you tell me a little bit about how big, or how small, is the ni-Vanuatu community in New Zealand?
LM: In Auckland itself, it's just about 13 families living in there.
IM: And can you tell me about how everyone got together to support the cause for Vanuatu?
LM: Yes, the thing is, once we heard about the cyclone, everybody just thought it's the right time. All of us just got together. And no matter what, we just want to help.
IM: And what kind of aid were you able to gather together and bring back home?
LM: We're just supplying nails - that's what people needed more - those types of things like nails, bushman swords, axes, whatever they can get their hands on so that they can rebuild their livelihood. We're buying spades and shovels and also wheelbarrows. I didn't even know that until I got down here and I realized, they need wheelbarrows.
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