"Aid agencies say conditions in cyclone-ravaged Vanuatu are among the most challenging they have ever faced with the severe storm tearing through the island nation, wiping out villages and displacing thousands." (ABC News Online 16 March 2015)
My name is Karina Lorenzo and I am currently an MBA student at Harvard Business School. Back in 2008, my friend Elaine Morton and I worked in Vanuatu as international development volunteers delivering public health education workshops to communities on Epi island.
I'm incredibly saddened by the devastation that has occured in Vanuatu, especially because I have friends who live there. Though no contact has been possible with Epi island yet, a military plane flew over yesterday and, unfortunately, it reported apocalyptic damage. To give you an idea of the severity of the situation, the report also indicated that the neighbouring island of Tongoa had been completely destroyed by the cyclone and its entire population appears to be missing. These are tragic times.
My friend, Joel Kalpram (who is from Vanuatu), will be traveling to several communities in two-weeks' time to deliver disaster relief materials personally. He was in charge of my volunteer program in Vanuatu back in 2008. I trust him and know that the funds will go directly to the relief efforts (without middle men involved). He will document all expenditures and report back to donors.
Funds raised in this campaign will go towards three areas in Vanuatu— villages on Pentecost, South Efate, and Epi islands. These are the places where Joel, Elaine, and I have friends and/or family.
The funds raised in this campaign will used to purchase medicine, tools for rebuilding shelter/schools, domestic equipment, and chainsaws for clearing debris.
Please help either by donating or by spreading awareness by sharing this link.
Thank you so much!
"Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much" - Hellen Keller
Note: The GoFundMe website says that it will deduct a 5% fee and a 3% processing fee from each donation. Everything else will go directly to Joel for disaster relief materials.
From a distance, it is very easy to glance over the events of Cyclone Pam as a sad situation that happened to an archipelago far away from the lives we lead. However, as someone who spent time in this incredible country, I implore you to take a few moments to consider donating money to the relief effort.
Back in 2008, a group of Canadians and Australians worked alongside many wonderful locals on two projects on the remote Epi Island.
Spending time in these communities taught me a lot about life in remote areas and gaining the respect of people who exist in places completely different from anything I've ever known. One of the best parts of the experience for me was befriending Mr. Henry, a teacher at the local primary school where we stayed. He was one of the most kind and incredible people I’ve ever met— and I still don’t know whether he and his family have survived the cyclone. I am certainly that even if he did, which I pray for constantly, his house has almost certainly been destroyed. Over 90% of the houses and crops on Epi Island have been wiped out due to this disaster. Mr. Henry is one of so many community members we are waiting to hear from.