When Cyclone Pam tore through Vanuatu in March 2015 it caused massive destruction. It was regarded as one of the most intense tropical cyclones of 2015 and was the worst natural disaster in the history of Vanuatu.
Whilst the initial focus was on providing food and household supplies, clean water and materials to assist with the rebuild of homes, but due to the scale of the disaster recovery is ongoing and long term. One year on and Vanuatu still remains in the minds and hearts of the HOOT Holidays team, so much so that the team unanimously decided to donate their collective $3,000 incentive reward, received in recognition of achieving their sales target, to help a local Vanuatu school.
Chief Executive HOOT Holidays Joe Araullo was not at all surprised by this extremely thoughtful gesture.
“One of the team suggested we use the incentive reward to assist the ongoing relief efforts in Vanuatu and it was an instant and completely resounding yes by everyone. It was so heart-warming to see such a fantastic response and I simply love how the team gets in behind supporting our island friends when they are in need, not only at the time of the tragic event but they are still finding ways to assist a year later. I couldn’t be more proud and it really is just another great example of how HOOT Holidays genuinely cares about our extended communities.”
With the assistance of Vanuatu Tourism, Pango Center School was chosen following a plea for international assistance from the school principle. The school is located in Pango Village, 10 kilometres from Port Vila with a population of approximately 1,500 and the village, along with its local primary school was severely affected by the cyclone.
Ironically a fundraising effort by the school was due to occur the week cyclone Pam hit.
“School contributions and funding normally provided by the parents has ceased due to the severity of the devastation in the Pango Village itself, these funds are being required for their own rebuilding efforts. It was the motivation to be able to provide basic and safe conditions for the school children to learn effectively was what made George Able the school principle to reach out to the international community for help,” says Linda Kalpoi, General Manager Vanuatu National Tourism Office.
Able requested funding assistance with three things:
- Completion of toilets – connection of water pipes to the main water supplier as students need to carry water in buckets to flush the toilets after use
- Purchase new tables and chairs for years 1-3 – children are currently sitting doing their work on the ground
- Rebuild a new classroom following cyclone damage – classes are currently overcrowded due to lack of classroom space
The sizeable HOOT Holidays donation enabled the school to purchase 20 double desks and 40 chairs.
“This is the first time the school has received such a large scale help or donation, a huge gala tankiu tumas to the HOOT Holidays Team,” says Kalpoi.
“To see the smiles on the children’s faces is all the thanks we need. Knowing that these children no longer have to sit on the floor to do their schoolwork and can once again have the basic materials most of us take for granted is truly humbling. The Vanuatu people, known for being the happiest people in the world are always genuine, friendly and happy and we are only too aware of the struggles that lie behind many of these faces. We are thrilled that we have made a difference,” says Araullo.
For more information on how you too can continue to support the Vanuatu recovery please contact Linda Kalpoi, Vanuatu National Tourism Office.