Community rallies for cyclone victims

April 26 gala will raise funds for Vanuatu, a South Pacific island that was devastated by Cyclone Pam last month

Oak Bay’s Dr. Jeff Unger worked on Tanna

Oak Bay’s Dr. Jeff Unger worked on Tanna

It has been one month since the category 5 Cyclone Pam hit the southern region of Vanuatu on March 13.  The country has been reeling with shock at the level of devastation.

With the deep ties between Victoria and Vanuatu, that shock has also reverberated amongst local residents that either have family, friends or colleagues trying to pick up the pieces after this unprecedented natural disaster.

Amy Mawdsley, a former staff member of Pacific Peoples’ Partnership, arrived in Vanuatu one week before the cyclone hit.

“The Vanuatu relief response is working tirelessly to provide food to communities, but many people have not yet been reached by aid of any kind,” said Mawdsley, adding the islands of Tanna and Erromango have been particularly hard hit. “The access to safe drinking water, food and housing in these areas is even worse.”

A Victoria-Vanuatu consortium consisting of Pacific Peoples Partnership, ViVA (Victoria Vanuatu Physicians Association), Disaster Aid Relief Canada, the Williams Family and Pearson College UWC, have united in responding to assist with relief and reconstruction.

On April 26, more than 100 Pearson College UWC students will take part in the TC 10k run. The students are showing solidarity with fellow student Caroline Charley, who is from Vanuatu, and will be running with flyers, Vanuatu flags and breakout performances drawing attention to the survivors of Cyclone Pam. They will host an information booth on the sidewalk across from the Empress Hotel with information on how to help.

A gala supporting Cyclone Pam relief efforts will be held April 26 at Sea Cider Farm and Cider House, 2487 Mt. St. Michael Rd. Saanichton, from 6:30-10:30 p.m. Tickets are $75 and include cider tastings, appetizers, silent auction and entertainment from the South Pacific Islander community.

For more information on the gala event, contact April Ingham at 250-381-4131 or director@pacificpeoples