Tongoa, Vanuatu – As the IsraAID team walk up the path, the chief of this small village on the remote island of Tongoa breaks down in tears, explaining ‘it’s been ten days since the disaster, and these are the first supplies we have received.’ In this village of 42 households devoid of a road access, only 4 structures remain standing, and starving locals lined up in the sun with excitement as the IsraAID team, together with the Tongoa parliament representative and a team of local volunteers, distributed over 40 tons of rice, flour and drinking water.
The situation was the same all across the islands of Tongoa and Mataso, as the IsraAID team traveled from village to village to distribute supplies to struggling and desperate communities. In total, the team visited 12 villages and all 8 schools on the island – all were completely destroyed.
The reaction to the team’s country of origin [Israel] has also been a pleasant surprise. “Everyone here loves Israel.” In another village, when David, a man who lost his house and his water tank is now polluted heard that the team had come from Israel, he excitedly picked up a damaged book from his ruined living room, and showed the page mentioning “Light Through the Darkness.”
As the team ended its first visit, they left with the promise to return, as the entire island remains without clean water, food, medicine, electricity, schools, homes, and their crops were destroyed. IsraAID will continue to assist this and other remote islands in Vanuatu that are still reeling from the destruction of Cyclone Pam. In the coming days a third team will leave Israel, and will include medical and psycho-social staff, and a water engineer.
photos courtesy IsraAID