New Zealand Red Cross aid worker Hanna Butler was at the first distribution of relief items in Eton, Vanuatu. She met Enia, a young mother, whose home was flattened by Cyclone Pam. Enia received a Red Cross family kit, which came from the New Zealand Red Cross warehouse in Auckland. Here is her story.

“All through the night the wind became stronger and we were not able to sleep. A tree fell on the roof of the evacuation centre and my children were very frightened.

When I came back the next day I found bits of my house scattered everywhere. I felt sad, everything was ruined.

On Sunday I started to clean up, we rebuilt the kitchen, and now we have some shelter but we are sleeping with the neighbours together with three other families.

We plan to rebuild. Our community is strong and we have formed a working group, we are helping to rebuild each other houses. We have already rebuilt five. I get strength from my community.

We have enough water, but food will be a problem, we are eating the fruit that fell on the ground, it will last another two weeks. Our garden has been destroyed so we will have to buy food. Luckily my husband has a job, so we will see what we can do.

We are managing. The kids are not at school and I have no idea when it will re-open. There are still people living in the school, it was used as an evacuation centre.”

Disaster response

New Zealand Red Cross was the first organisation sanctioned by the Government of Vanuatu to begin relief distributions to communities devastated by Cyclone Pam.

Relief items included tarpaulins, tools for repairing homes, sleeping mats, lamps, kitchen equipment and personal hygiene items. Distributions will be scaled up in the coming days and weeks.

The immediate focus for Red Cross is now on meeting emergency needs in Tanna, Efate, including Port Vila, the Shepperd Island group, Paama and Ambyrm Island.

This will include the distribution of essential household items, tarpaulins, shelter toolkits, safe drinking water and health and first aid programs.

Red Cross will also be rolling out longer term recovery projects to support the stronger and safer rebuilding of damaged homes.

Restoration and strengthening of livelihoods will also be crucial due to the significant damage to crops, livestock and fisheries.

Red Cross has a long history of working in disaster risk reduction and emergency response in Vanuatu.

Brochure on how to help in the Pacific.

More information about donating during emergencies here.