On the night Cyclone Pam hit the archipelago of Vanuatu, Anny James took shelter inside her home in Epau village with her parents and three children. They listened in horror as scraps of corrugated iron and tree branches flew around outside. Suddenly, Anny’s front door was ripped right off its hinges.
“We took our kitchen cupboard and pushed it up to the doorway. I told my children that we had to go under the bed. We have just one bed, so we squeezed ourselves under it.”
The next morning, when the wind died down, the family walked outside to find total destruction.
“It felt like we were on another world. Families were crying, because most of us lost everything; all our belongings.”
On March 13, 2015, tropical cyclone Pam damaged or destroyed around 15,000 homes across Vanuatu and decimated more than 90% of food stocks in some communities.
“We don’t know when we can rebuild our homes. Normally, we’d use the local materials, a local palm, to build thatch houses but these were destroyed. They may take two years to grow again. So it will take time before we can build good houses.”
As part of the emergency response, Oxfam distributed vouchers to the most affected families.
“With the vouchers Oxfam gave us, most of the community went to buy tools so they could start gardening again. We also bought seeds, because most of the plants, like paw paw, coconuts, some of the fruit trees that the families plant and rely on for fresh food, were destroyed.”
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