Vanuatu Cyclone Disaster March 2015

Tanna Day Spring School-25

Eighteen months ago I enjoyed the privilege of visiting Day Spring School on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu with my partner, who works in international development, together with her colleagues and local education officials.

The school is located in a remote part of Tanna; the journey took three hours by 4×4, including over an hour off road, along tracks I would not have imagined to be negotiable by any vehicle. At the time of writing, press reports say that it may be several days before the effects of cyclone Pam can be assessed in the remoter parts of the country. The photographs in this post illustrate the simplicity of the school buildings, which are typical of many schools on the island. It is unlikely they will have withstood the effects of winds of up to 300km/h. One can only imagine the devastation that will have been caused.

The UK Government has offered £2m in relief aid to Vanuatu, a member of the Commonwealth. This paltry sum is less than many bankers’ bonuses.

Please look through the photographs and make a donation to one of the several agencies which have already set up appeals for disaster relief, including:


Save The Children:

CARE International:


Visit to Day Spring School

On arrival, we were welcomed in song by the whole school…
Tanna Day Spring School-17
…and with a custom dance. We could feel the vibrations through the ground.
Tanna Day Spring School-11
We were treated as honoured guests and were welcomed with gifts by the village chief, including traditional woven bags, a kava plant (used to create a mild narcotic drink) and…a live cockerel!
Tanna Day Spring School-18
Tanna Day Spring School-7
The main school building was of basic block and corrugated roof construction. Peripheral buildings were simpler, as can be seen in the foreground.
Tanna Day Spring School-27
Some buildings, including the kindergarten, were built in traditional style, using local materials. Kindergartens are constructed in flimsy materials so that the children will not be killed in the event of an earthquake.
Tanna Day Spring School-30
Other simple buildings can been seen behind the playground.
Tanna Day Spring School-31
No video games or mobile phones here; the children amuse themselves in simple fashion.
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They even make their own ball.
Tanna Day Spring School-6
Vanuatu has a reputation as the ‘happiest place on earth’. It is difficulty to imagine the conditions these children will be living in now.
Tanna Day Spring School-23
So please give generously to one of the many official appeals. It will take many months,if not years for the population to recover from this disaster. Even with substantial international support there will be much work to be done.
Tanna Day Spring School-35
N.B Permission was obtained for all photographs included in this post.