Cyclone Pam Vanuatu Relief Efforts

Cyclone Pam Vanuatu Relief Efforts

Vanuatu has been called the happiest country on earth. I had the opportunity to visit this South Pacific island nation a few years ago, and although I don't know how to quantify happiness, I can tell you that when I arrived, I encountered the friendliest, most selfless and giving people I've ever met.

Many Ni-Vanuatu people have very little. They live in wooden huts with thatch roofs. Yet when I arrived in one of these villages to stay for a few days, my wife and I were immediately given the single bedroom with a mattress, in the only concrete-walled structure in the village. Village inhabitants survive almost exclusively on taro, yams, coconut, and a small amount of fish. Chickens and pigs are very valuable and are only eaten on very special occasions. Apparently, out-of-town guests qualify because we had meat daily. Every interaction came with the most genuine smile I'd ever seen, even when the language barrier made verbal conversation impossible.

What struck me most is how happy people are, despite having so little. They live off what they grow, and the relatively small amount of money they get for selling kava. Most residents don't have fancy clothes or flat screen TVs. They want for nothing but a roof over their heads and the health of their family and friends.

A few days ago, those thatch roofs and that health were dealt a massive blow by Cyclone (hurricane in our hemisphere) Pam, a level 5 storm that passed directly over many Vanuatu islands. The loss of property and life was immense. Over 100 people are said to have died, a number sure to rise as the more rural areas are finally reached. Many people who did live are now roaming around homeless just hoping for some form of help.

Image courtesy of Jordi Bernabeu Farrús

Bula Kava House buys much of our kava from these lovely people, and this storm will surely affect that supply. At the moment though, the loss of crops and stock takes a back seat to the immediate safety of the people. We feel a duty to help in any way we can with the recovery. That is why we're asking for your help. We would like to raise at least $500 through our website which we will match, for a total contribution of $1,000. Of course, we'll donate as much as we can collect. Lord knows the Vanuatu people can use it.

The people of Vanuatu thank you for your assistance.

Judd Rench

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