18:44.65S169:12.54E Could it be better?
Salsa af Stavsnas
Ellinor Ristoff Staffan Ehde
Tue 12 May 2015 10:19
Anchor up at 7 am yesterday morning, but before that we had to sing for Ellinor and have a celebration breakfast, her birthday!
Then Kim came on board from LilExplorer.
Time to round the island and go to Pot Narvin (yes that is the spelling).
No wind on the eastern side, we had to run the engine, on the northern part we could sail but once we started to head south we had a 20 knot wind against us. Together with swell this was not the ideal situation, Salsa was beating at 2 knots speed, we tried closer to shore even though the chart is worthless, nobody has measured anything. Gained speed when we tacked our way down and we made it to destination just in time!
I served lunch which was pumpkin curry from previous day and then the doctors went for a nap while I was navigating.
20 minutes before arrival it was time to wake them up with coffee and by then we were also synced with ChezNouis in PotNarvin.
So as we came in to the bay Jonathan and Donna were on stand by to take the doctors ashore, quite impressive, before we even anchored they were on their way to run a clinic! So I anchored and closed all systems and then synced with the kids. Erika wanted to make a birthday day cake and Andreas wanted to play. As they had had school under way that was a good idea so I prepared to go ashore and was picked up by Jonathan.
Well ashore first peson to greet me was the school principal, Tony. We were standing at the beach made of black lava sand, trees that looked like dead dinasours layd scattered around us and made us feel very small. Their roots and branches are HUGE, I mean HUGE! And there they are, massive, dead and laying on the side. This village was hit by both waves and massive wind forces.
I went to the church that was the only available building for clinic, there they already had full speed on treating and examining. As we were asked to bring reading glasses as well, Jonathan and Donna runned an opticial part in the clinic, but only for reading glasses as nobody is educated for anything else. The hapiness in peoples face when they could see the text in a book was unpayable.
A big tarp was set up for private examinations with a home made bed of wood.
Remi the man responsible for the disaster work asked me if I wanted to see the village, and as we walked I saw things that were astonishing.
You have a village that was wiped out about 5-6 weeks ago? And here they had arranged teams of workers to help the entire village. So instead of a tired crowd were everybody would have to take care of their own problem it was solved with many hands. It was organised with men setting up and repair houses and the women assisting with plait of material to tie up the walls etc. Can you imagine a roof with 12 guys on top lifting sections by hand and then 5-6 guys fastening to the house? Laughters and team work at its best! I get goos bumps as I write this because the joy and the speed was immense. As if that was not enough, the chiefs house looks like garbage, so Remi told me the working orders.
The chief has ordered that widows houses are fixed first, then lonely women with children, then familes etc and last, yes, the chiefs house.
If anything made this relief work a life experience it was this village, I would not have wanted to miss it for my life! This gves so much hope about humanity. I'm not naive, I'm sure they have their problems, but the way they take care of this giant mess is amazing. Remember we are talking about a place without electricity unless you run a generator, we are talking about axes and handsaws, we are talking about splitting bamboo that has to be collected up in the mountains. We are talking about getting a tree away from a house before you can start rebuilding it, and we are not talking tree, we are talking BIG TREE, 100 years old, so wide that you can stand next to it laying down and it is yet taller than a man in its width.
On top of that they also had torrential rains last week so they have mud everywhere, mud everywhere!
Remi told me they are so happy, so happy, that nobody was killed during Pam.
In the church they had a line of patients and as it was closing to dark we asked people to come back next day
The evening was rounded up with a birthday dinner for Ellinor, I made a pasta with cream and fresh lobster that I traded with a guy for kava.
Kim had a poem for Ellinor and Erika had made a cake on board while Ellinor was working ashore....
We all fell asleep pretty early but unfortunally the waves started to pick up during the night and we had a rolly uncomfortable sleep-again.
As we were invited to eat breakfast with the principal of the school we felt we had to bring something, the last thing Ellinor did before going to bed was to make a dough and by 5.30 this morning I was up and put it in the oven. There were a lot of things to prepare before going ashore but by 7 we were all there and by the principles house. His wife had prepared a great breakfast with small bananas, yams, cabbage in coconut milk, kasava, sweet potatoes, fish etc. The choice was big and we had bread, cheese, sugar and coffee. Things they do not have.
It was a priviledge to be invited and after that I went with the kids to school. Erika just jumped into a class but Andreas was hesitant.
So I sat with him a couple of hours, the kids are so unused to foreigners and I guess just the look of white people makes them laugh. Hard to take for a 7 year old. The teaching is done a lot by chanting which can get to an almost deafeing experience. The kids shout and shout!
The best part was whe the kids had to read out loud and all together a book in english. A big size book made for collective reading I think, so the teacher holds up the book and points at each word. First page, read! Title, author, publisher (!?) and then the last line:
For teaching according to the ministry of education in Vanuatu.
Yes they read everything loud (good there was no pricetag).
When I could leave Andreas I went to the clinic and there was a crowd!
So Ellinor taught me how to take care of infected wounds and I started to do clinical work. But suddenly I had a kid with some wounds that looked like Yaws, and Ellinor said yes, that is Yaws. So we gave the kid medicin for that. Soon I found more and we realised that many kids had it. Jonathan marched over to the school and took help from the teachers to check the all kids and found 28 cases.
During their lunch brake Jonathan had them lined up and gave them medicine. The problem with Yaws, we informed the adults is that if you treat one kid and not the others it will come back, and ti will hunt them until you have taken it away on all. That soon became known we guess as more and more people showed up with it.
I went out to Salsa and made lunch for the rest of the work force, including the wonderful aid worker Marilin, who was actually so tyred at the end of the day that she was almost gone. I think we had more than 100 patients! And that does not include all the people that wanted to try reading glasses!
I took a moment and went to see the village chief meeting, I was curious to see what it looked like. The meeting is important for all in the village as it syncs all the disaster work and how to rebuild it. You could tell, even outside the damaged meeting hall people had gathered to listen and to give opinons.
By 4pm we were done, collected all our things and went back to the boat. Had dinner and waited for a woman that Ellinor wanted to take to Port Vila for further scan of her stomach problem. The woman said her husband wont let her go so Ellinor convinced him on how important it was, she thought he understood but the woman never showed up and we waited almost 2 hours beyond the time that was agreed.
Nw we are under sail, as it became dark we left and are under way to Port Vila.
This also sets the end of our mission for SeaMercy.
In Port Vila we are going to meet the boats thet will take over and continue to run the relief work. We will look for a window to New Caledonia.
This month has been a great month, working with wonderful people for wonderful people.
"Can you see any stress symptoms on the kids in school?" I asked the principle today, "yes" he answered, he could tell that they are different, they are caught in a loop were the cyclone comes up all the time. He was also worried about their nutrition situation, outbrake of Yaws is a sign of a lesser resistance to it, and there has been lack of food and he thinks that some families do not admit how hard it is for them.
The school itself is a disaster, even though the building is there, made in concrete and all, the waves and the wind crashed their way into the school and smashed everything, destroyed all books and school material.
But the principle is not giving up, he builds relations and wants to make sure he can rebuild the kids future...