Vanuatu Story

Two 40ft High Cube containers of goods have been sent to Vanuatu to help the local Indigenous Nee Vanuatu people with Goods & Equipment.
The first container was done in 2011 in conjunction with the help of a Local Baptist minister from the Mele Village and the Rotary Club of Port Vila. This container was firstly for the locals in the village of Mele and it was to help them come a little bit forward and into the modern world and help them to get their village work improved so they and their children could improve their learning and produce to help them survive and improve their living conditions. The goods sent were library and school books, 25 computers, 25 sewing machines, 40 school desks, 40 school chairs, children’s toys, games, pens, pencils, stationery, note books, exercise books, crayons, chalk, basic school supplies, rulers, setsquares, etc. The second lot of goods went to the Rotary Club of Port Vila which was mainly medical equipment & hospital supplies including, walking sticks, crutches, hospital beds, walking frames both wheeled and unwheeled, surgical and other medical supplies, bandages, syringes, etc.
This was gratefully received and Norm O’Flaherty and his party went over to assist with the unpacking and distribution within the village. They were feasted and were presented to the local people and two head masters from local schools and two local members of parliament who expressed their gratitude for the benefits that would be given to all the local children and Mele Village people. Almost 9 hours of feasting and distribution it gave the local children a good meal paid for by the Local Government Officials.
The second container was sent in 2012 and this was mainly hospital supplies again in conjunction with the Rotary Club of Port Vila and this second container had more medical equipment, 2 dental chairs, hospital beds, walking frames, wheelchairs, surgical supplies, desks, chairs, etc. all for the Port Vila Hospital. Again Norm made the trip to Vanuatu where he met a number of new members of the Rotary Club of Port Vila and in particular inspected the facilities of the Vanuatu Disabled Peoples Society (VDPS). They only have a condemned building that they have managed to make a small part of suitable for their use, with little or no facilities for these disabled people. There is no pension for disabled people, no Government grants or any form of support for these people. The local Rotary Club is helping rebuilding their facility and when Norm was there they had a local earthmoving company, the owner being a member of the Rotary Club of Port Vila, clearing some land donated by the government for a new building and they were planning for foundations for this building. When Norm asked about it they said they had plans approved but no money to build and the local Rotary Club members were using their members to solicit donations of materials and supplies to rebuild their facilities. They for example were in desperate need for all or any wheelchairs, crutches, walking frames as they had none. They in particular asked for any wheels we had so they could put wheels on items to help those unable to get around easily. One of the wheelchairs Norm saw that they had made, was from an old steel school chair that they had put bicycle wheels on the back, and supermarket trolley wheels on the front for the local to use so he could get around. The worker in the VDSP office, had no shoes, his wheelchair had just the steel frames of bicycle wheels on it and no foot pedals and this was on bare concrete floors with no floor coverings. There were no modern toilet facilities in their building.
In November 2013 a 40ft container was being packed for Vanuatu by these very lovely people in a joint project of The Rotary Club of Morialta, R.C of Clare, R.C Of Norwood, Lions Club of Athelstone, Lions Club of Clare and RAWCS – Donations in Kind (DIK). Norm is the DIK coordinator for this project and has raised from these local Service Clubs the $11,000 needed to get the first of these containers and goods shipped to Port Vila where the Rotary Club of Port Vila were to organise the unloading and distribution to the local hospital and the outlying islands. Our aim is to get two containers off this financial year to Vanuatu. We need money and assistance still for the second container.
This first container will be full of medical supplies that are urgently needed for these people. The main isIand, Efete, has the Port Vila Hospital, but the local outlying islands have little or no medical facilities and this container will supply additional hospital beds and medical equipment and supplies including a humidicrib, for them to set up similar small medical stations on a number of outlying islands for emergency treatment and then in urgent cases, start treatments before the islanders can get transferred to the main island with the Port Vila facilities which are much better. Even this hospital is in urgent need of further assistance. The only form of income for the Government to help their people is in the form of import duties and VAT tax as there is no income tax payable from individuals. The Government relies heavily on support from Australian, American, French, Japanese and Chinese Governments for their income. As such the local transport system is virtually ineffective with only one main paved road around the main island and little or no paved roads on other islands and very basic hospital and other forms of Government utilities all needing support. For example, small Police Force, at least they have no speeding or speed limit on the main island as the roads are too bad to enable any speed. Still they have motor vehicle accidents and other industrial accidents leaving people in need of medical assistance. While they are off work they receive no benefits, so their health is critical to enable them to survive.
Our Rotary Club and these local service clubs can be proud of the efforts to assist these people and their gratitude and thanks is something worthwhile seeing. To see the light in the eyes of a child, when he receives a book, or pencils, or a reading book, to having access to a computer, instead of a piece of cardboard that looks like a keyboard to practice on. To see the look of thanks on the face of a lady given an electric sewing machine, when she has had to use for many years a hand cranked sewing machine to sew clothes to sell to the visiting cruise ships that frequent Port Vila. To see the faces of disabled people given access to a wheelchair or crutches to use for themselves and not give them back to the hospital so they have mobility, to see an elderly lady or man given a walker that they could not possibly hope to get with their low level of income so they can walk around unaided, these are things that Norm has been privileged to see on these trips to Vanuatu and he looks forward to continuing using Rotary and other service clubs assistance to keep these good things happening.
If you want to share this great feeling and experience with Norm, please come out to DIK and help DIK pack the next container for the island.