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Students and staff across Victoria University are rallying to provide support for Vanuatu, after the nation was ripped apart by Cyclone Pam last Saturday.
Vanuatu President Baldwin Lonsdale called the windstorm “a monster” after it tore through the country at 270km/hr, destroying nearly all structural development, killing (at current count) 24 citizens and leaving thousands homeless. At present, 3300 people have been displaced to 37 evacuation shelters across the main island.
Dr Pala Molisa, a lecturer at Victoria and originally from Vanuatu, said the damage inflicted by Cyclone Pam is unparalleled in the country’s history, destroying 90 per cent of buildings in Port Vila alone and affecting almost the entire population.
“It is incredibly sad to see such devastation to people’s homes, the roads and the infrastructure in Vanuatu,” Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Pasifika) Hon Luamanuvao Winnie Laban said.
The reopening of the damaged airport in the capital, Port Vila, has facilitated the delivery of international aid to the struggling nation. Lonsdale said there was urgent need of a variety of items, chiefly tarpaulins, water containers, construction tools and medical supplies.
One major point of concern is Port Vila’s hospital, the structural integrity of which has been compromised. Medical staff were forced to evacuate patients from wards. Surgeon Richard Leona said “we need to get an urgent drug supply and food and also set up a mobile hospital to deal with the influx of patients coming in.”
In response, Victoria University, together with the Victoria Pasifika Students Council and VUWSA, has organised a number of initiatives to raise funds for the people of Vanuatu. A benefit concert featuring Young Life, one of Vanuatu’s most acclaimed reggae bands, was held in the Hunter Lounge last Friday, along with continuing bucket collections on all campuses. An“appeal day” will also be held at the University, at which students will be able to donate.
VUWSA President Rick Zwaan said that “the joint initiative is a way to show support in a tangible way by raising funds and working without out local Vanuatu community to ensure that they are well used.”
Laban said that the funds raised are intended to be “targeted at a medium-term initiative, such as specific education initiative in Vanuatu.”
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VUW Pasifika Supports Vanuatu