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DART has been deployed to Vanuatu

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29/03/15 16:30

 

Vanuatu deployment update #7

 

Good Afternoon all,

The team have returned to the capital, having achieved some really useful work for the island community of Ngunu. Assisted by a team of 11 local people, they’ve cleared 2.5 km of main track and restored access to the village school. They also achieved some valuable training, showing people how to maintain and sharpen a saw.

 

The following day they cleared a massive mango tree that was blocking access to Elle school and kindergarten, before crossing the island to another village school to remove dangerous branches and limbs that were hanging above the school grounds. Tomorrow, the police inspector in Port Villa is driving Gary and Andy out beyond the capital to some rural communities who have requested assistance from the DART team.

 

The guys are working hard, but in good spirits and clearly enjoying lots of support and assistance from the local communities with whom they’ve been working. The headmaster of Central Villa school, where they were operating last week, has kindly once again offered the lads accommodation at his home while they’re in the capital.

 

Mike Metcalfe

Ops Manager

 

More photos and updates on the website DART International UK

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Vanuatu deployment update #8

 

Good morning all

 

The team are now working at the College in Monmartre. The school is situated on high ground and took a heavy hit from the cyclone as you can see from the attached photographs. Gary and Andy’s work will once again focus on tree triage, making the area around the school safe from damaged and hanging tree limbs, opening up access and generally helping to get the school up and running again.

 

If you’ve been following previous updates you’ll be aware that they’ve done some terrific work in helping several of the island’s schools to reopen. The priority has, of course, been to make the schools safe and they’ve done a great job in that respect, but there is also an important tree conservation aspect to their work. Many of the fruit trees the guys have been working on are hugely important to the schools and local community as a source of food. Without the team’s specialist climbing and arborist skills, many of those damaged trees would undoubtedly have been felled and lost forever, simply to make the area safe.

 

Education in Vanuatu is very different to what we’re familiar with here in the UK. There are no free schools, both public and private schools are funded from fees. There are a number of primary schools in Port Vila and also some smaller villages have their own primary school. Most Vanuatu children are unable to continue their education beyond the primary school level. The main reason for this is due to low income wages. Most Vanuatu families have at least three children so it means they could pay 4 months salary just for school fees.

 

Schools in Vanuatu usually have their own fruit gardens, vegetable gardens from which they grow vegetables, sweet corn, manioc, sweet potatoes, igname and taro and at least twice a week, students work in the gardens. In this way, boarding schools are able to save money by growing, cooking and eating food from their own gardens. It is also good because the students learn more than just academic subjects, they learn life skills as well, and not just how to grow plants, but every Saturday and Sunday they have to cook their own food as well because there is no cook on the weekends.

 

Monmartre College where the team are currently working was the first French school in Vanuatu, and it’s still the best. It is a Catholic boarding school with 350 boys and girls from Year 7 to 10, another 150 boys and girls Year 11 and to 13, all of whom only get to go back to town once a month. The students and most of the teachers are Ni Vanuatu (this is what the indigenous people are called), but they do receive help from around the world. Before the cyclone, everyone lived on site; in a private house for the teachers and a large dormitory for the students.

 

There are a few international schools like Port Vila International School which offeres education up to Grade 10 based on the Australian and New Zealand curriculum to children of expatriates, but most expatriates send their children to Australia and New Zealand for secondary school and for university.

 

Best regards

 

Mike Metcalfe

Operations Manager

DART International UK

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11090939_924022314285665_5074142283767395600_o.jpg

 

Some of the kids at the kindergarten that is now open thanks to the work our ‪#‎Vanuatu‬ deployment team have completed in removing dangerous trees and making the retained trees safe.

A social media campaign using the hashtag ‪#‎VanuatuStillSmiles‬ is hoping to send a positive message about the country in the aftermath of Cyclone Pam

Edited by jonmackeen

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Final update - ‪#‎Vanuatu‬ Deployment

 

Gary and Andy have now completed their deployment and are beginning the long haul home. They're scheduled to land at London Heathrow on Friday afternoon.

 

Over the Easter period they returned to the more remote ‪#‎Nguna‬ and ‪#‎Emao‬ islands to complete work they began with those communities earlier in the deployment. Gary and Andy had another good reason for returning: Our ‪#‎chainsaw‬ sponsor Makita UK and our climbing equipment and ‪#‎PPE‬ sponsor Fletcher Stewart, Stein Products Limited, generously offered to donate the teams equipment to a worthy local project or community. As part of the deal, Gary and Andy would provide the recipients with the appropriate level of chainsaw safety and maintenance training.

 

This is what Gary had to say about the recipients of the two Makita saws:

'Phillip (known as Fifi) is 21 and the father of a one year child. He lives on Nguna Island where he normally makes a living processing timber, using his father's aging chainsaw. Fifi lives in a village that was badly hit by the cyclone. His own house was badly damaged, yet he spent 2 weeks voluntarily clearing debris from his and the other four villages on the island. On our arrival he worked extremely hard in support of our operation and although he was already competent on a saw, he responded well to our training and quickly learned a range of different methods and techniques to become a safer operator. We donated one Makita Tools 50cc saw, along with full Stein PPE and fuel. As a result, Fifi is intending to take his skills and equipment to work on other islands.

David is a carpenter with 3 children and partner to a teacher who helped us out enormously when we first arrived by putting us up in her classroom. Once again, despite his own home being badly damaged in the cyclone, David has been working tirelessly to help other villagers rebuild their homes and he took time out and worked hard to help us with what we were trying to achieve. His skill as a carpenter, combined with the help he was selflessly giving to others, convinced us that David would make good use of the donation. We give him full training and Stein PPE to go with his 50cc Makita chainsaw.

The gratitude, generosity and selflessness of the Vanuatu people is truly humbling. These largely self-sufficient and resourceful remote island communities have had their lives turned upside down by Cyclone PAM. Yet they remain resolutely upbeat; genuinely interested in our very different lives and always ready to share what little they have with a smile and a handshake. Thanks to the generosity of Stein and Makita, Andy and I both feel we've left a real legacy by donating this equipment to Fifi and David.'

 

Best Regards

Mike Metcalfe

Operations Manager

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Its been great to read all these installments, well done to all involved with getting this vital work done, not forgetting the generous sponsors.

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The guys are back in the UK now and getting back into some sort of normality apart from the jet-lag. The deployment was an amazing success and couldn’t have happened without the support of our sponsors Glendale Managed Services Makita UK and Stein Products Limited and of course personal donations.

We are now concentrating on fundraising for any potential future deployments, we have several volunteers ready to put their lives on hold and deploy and we have the kit, but money is the big issue. We have set up a JustGiving page https://www.justgiving.com/fec66e085c/ if anyone would like to help with fundraising.

This weekend our Operations Manager Michael Metcalfe is #fundraising for DART by running the Plymouth 10k / Plymouth Half Marathon please donate to Michael's @JustGiving page https://www.justgiving.com/Michael-Metcalfe2/ every pound counts towards our next deployment, wherever it maybe in the world.

We have several potential responders attending the next mandatory Safety and Security training weekend is being held over the weekend of the 24th – 26th April. If you’re interested in joining the team then please download and fill out a volunteer enrollment form on our website and return the email address on the website DART International UK

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Why are they traveling in that get up for ?:blushing:

 

 

Not re read the thread. But to keep baggage allowance right if I remember. Saws, climbing kit etc soon adds up.

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The allowance is pretty poor and Mike and Gary have to beg the airline for extra weight. £70/kilo is a bit steep for anyone, let alone a little charity like DART. Luckily, they managed to do this. All the kit comes off as soon as seated on the plane, (pasty tree surgeons in shorts, singlet and boots, nice). Clearly, travelling in ballistics is not travel wear of choice.

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