Truth be told, Mondays in Vanuatu aren’t all that bad. This particular Monday saw me help distribute 500L of water with Promedical. Fineen and I hitched a ride out of Port Vila to Mele Village with the water tank on the back of a truck. The kids were all pretty keen to have their photo taken after they helped fill every jerry can, bucket, bottle and kettle in the village with water. We also helped fill up countless containers before we left.
I had to go and see a counsellor after that and I was thoroughly unimpressed. I didn’t think I needed to see anyone but looking back on it now, I probably did. The counsellor was a very nice woman and it turned out I did not have any immediate PTSD symptoms so I was free to go.
The best news of the week was that my family in Australia was raising money to help fly a helicopter full of rice and water to Level, the plan was that it would happen within the week and I would be allowed to go with it. I would, however, have to be on the helicopter when it returned, drat. The plan was to fly on Wednesday.
Tuesday was the last day all 19 of us were in the country. Violet and I sorted lots of medical supplies for Promedical and got to ride on the back of truck back into town. We may have accidentally flashed some people when our skirts were flapping in the wind but we didn’t care. There was also a final group briefing that night, we all said the positive things that happened to us this week, when a phone started ringing. Turned out to by mine or Courtney’s, but it was Dad Michael from Level. We had to tell him we weren’t allowed to go back and he told us just how worried they were about everything. That meant it was really bad, because he never worries. There was a lot more crying after this phone call.
On Wednesday, I went to Terri and Esline’s village for the first time. We handed out food and cleaned some nasty looking wounds, one of the kids had a literal river of pus running down his leg but for the most part, we were just recleaning from yesterday. Courtney and I played games with all the village kids, we sang if you’re happy and you know it and their reactions were hilarious. We also picked Jineth and Gwendolin up from school after their first day back. It was just one of those fantastic days where everything seemed right in the world, even with the cyclone damage around us.
I went back to the village on Thursday and we redressed some of the wounds, they were all healing nicely by then. Having accepted that I was going home, I changed my flight and told almost no one I was coming back. I was unbelievable excited because the next day we were meant to be flying out to Level to take rice and water to them. I also discovered that during the lost week, there was a man called Derek who was leading a team that hacked their way through the Pentecost bush in an effort to find Level. He seemed surprised when I called to thank him but was very nice when he realised what I was talking about.
Friday was meant to be helicopter day. It was not. It turned out that a lot of stuff happened, but the long story short is that the President stole the helicopter. It would appear he did not want us to deliver aid. So I spent a lot of time on the phone organising everything so that we could go on the Saturday. I ran out of credit, highly unusual. I was so angry about it and I wanted to write a letter along the lines of “Dear Sir, please get out of my helicopter and stop nicking the aid.” I restrained myself because that might not have gone down well.
Love from Me and My Backpack