Vanuatu – holidaying in a disaster zone was more fulfilling than you may think

Most of us love a holiday and I believe it’s fair to say, most people also enjoy being able to make a difference in the world, so its pretty special when you get to do both at the same time!

After what’s been a hectic 12 months, I had planned a quick holiday in Vanuatu with my husband for some rest and relaxation and to catch up with a couple of charities I know do some great work helping out the locals.

However, nature being the force she is, had a change of plans in store for us with two cyclones bearing down on the pacific nation in the days before we were due to leave, resulting in our flights being cancelled and placing the whole holiday in jeopardy.

We had been warned that this was not a good time for a holiday in Vanuatu as the island had been, yet again, devastated by cyclones. Vanuatu has been shaped, moulded and impacted by 18 cyclones since 2000.

After much debate, we decided to take the plunge and go anyway, understanding there was a chance we could be of some help. We arranged to catch up with a couple of church-based charities, understanding the people of Vanuatu rely heavily on organisations such as these for help in rebuilding their homes and their lives.

Getting off the plane it was obvious the devastation that had gone on in this little island paradise. Most of the smaller domestic air fleet had been trashed and overturned and access between the islands was very limited.

Everywhere you went there were power lines down or snapped in half, huge trees completely uprooted, roofing iron had been flung and wrapped around and in trees. Banana trees completely stripped and will take 12 months to restore, crops were completely disseminated and will take at least six months to restore meaning there is very limited green veggies left on the island.

The devastation of crops also meant the pulsating centre of Vanuatu, Mamma’s Markets, were closed which has an immediate impact on the livelihood of many of the country’s population who rely on the markets to sell their crops and wares.

We spent four days meeting up with a myriad of wonderful people doing some great things for disadvantaged people. After witnessing the devastation of the last two cyclones, we were keen to do what we could and did our bit, in the smallest of ways, by helping to erect tents which are being used as makeshift accommodation for some of those who lost their homes.

We know what we did was a drop in the ocean, but at least it was a drop. It was the most we could do at the time and is something we are keen to educate others about.

Vanuatu is known as a beautiful coastal paradise with warm, friendly and welcoming people who rely heavily on tourism and the money it brings to be able to survive.

If you are due for a holiday, I promise Vanuatu is still a great destination. As well as sitting around drinking cocktails on the beach or swimming at the infamous Blue Lagoon, you can also find plenty of chances to make a huge difference to lives of these gorgeous people.

I’m happy to pass on the details of the charities we dealt with while we were there. If you are interested shoot me a message and I’ll get back to you.