A week ago, Port Vila was enjoying the tropical warmth and sunshine we have all come to equate with this wonderful part of the world.
Mike Clarke and I flew over there for a series of meetings and catch-ups, plus the very first “Storian Blo Helti Tut” – a dental conference bringing together many of the small groups working in this field.
As my diary on Sunday 15 March 2015 relates …

“Yesterday, Saturday, it was a case of shock, relief and a sense of disbelief at the widespread destruction resulting from Tropical Cyclone Pam.

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Today, it’s sunny, still, hot and humid, and the reality of assessing the losses and starting again, and in some cases dealing with the viloent and tragic loss of family members is hitting home.

Communications are down all over the country, along with roads and so much more infrastructure

Mike and I were due to fly home this morning, but the airport is closed until further notice.

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The 3 day dental conference (Storian Blo Helti Tut) we were here to attend lasted 4 hours before proceedings were wound up on Thursday to allow people time to adequately prepare for the cyclone’s approach.  A great disappointment, but a small issue compared with what many must now deal with in the aftermath.

Given the number of yachts and boats that have gone aground (80% of the boats in the harbour by one report) after dragging their moorings I am very pleased “Chimere” is safely in her Hastings berth back in Victoria

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We are yet to hear news from the people and projects with whom we are connected, but early reports suggest the destruction is widespread across most of the 63 inhabited islands that comprise this country.  It might take some to time to hear from the outer regions. Blessings, Rob Latimer and Mike Clarke.”

 

It is now Tuesday 17 March, and Mike and I were able to fly out on the first commercial flight last night, safe and well. But our feelings are mixed as our bodies resume “normal” life, but our hearts and minds are very much with the people of Vanuatu.  They are resourceful, stoic, generous people, but this disaster has destroyed so much, and without urgent assistance so much more will be destroyed from the spread of disease and further rain.
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If you feel able to donate, I can certainly recommend the UnitingWorld appeal (the overseas aid arm of the Uniting Church in Australia)   They have direct links through their partner church, the Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu (PCV); the group we have been assisting for the past 7 years with remote-access medical transport and the establishment of the Vanuatu Dental Care Services.The link to donate is here …
http://www.unitingworld.org.au/cyclone-pam/
Whilst Chimere is not intending to sail to Vanuatu this year, we are establishing a network of willing and able boaties who can assist with transport to the outer islands over the next 6-9 months.  If you know of any boats intending to travel to Vanuatu this year, we encourage them to make contact with me
 
We thank you for your thoughts and prayers and kind offers of assistance.
 
Smooth seas, fair breeze and a time to dig deep and rebuild
 
Rob Latimer

www.msm.org.au

More images are available on 2015 Cyclone Pam Gallery page