I worked with the Disaster Team to provide training for youth and volunteers to equip them with skills to respond effectively to affected communities. I also accompanied the teams as a support person, when they went out to the communities to distribute non-food items and awareness materials, particularly the 10 Key Messages for COVID-19.
“My work involves ensuring that the welfare of our youth and volunteers are taken care of before, during and after humanitarian crises in Vanuatu”
When COVID-19 was escalated to pandemic status, all of our efforts were directed towards increasing the awareness of practices to improve hygiene standards (such as regular hand washing and practicing social distancing) in our communities. Unfortunately, Severe Tropical Cyclone Harold affected the same communities and the need for basic survival, understandably became less of a priority. We noted that most of the communities relaxed their good hygiene practices.
To deal with this, when distributing relief items and non-food items to provide relief after STC Harold, before handing over any items – our teams would conduct COVID-19 awareness sessions to keep reminding the community to maintain good hygiene practices. This served as an important reminder to the communities even during the time when relief efforts were to aid with recovery from STC Harold.
“Seeing our volunteers go beyond the expected service is a milestone indicator because it is proof that the skills and resources they have been given are not just appreciated, but that they are put into practice and tailored to suit the community”
This is evident in the way the construction of emergency shelters made out of tarps and hand washing stations using tippy taps were done, which showcases the initiatives taken by our volunteers to meet the needs of the community.
We also receive feedback from the communities we serve. After our first day of carrying out response work, a few members of the community visited our office to personally acknowledge the good work done by the youth and volunteers, and further encouraged us to keep up the good work despite the challenges.
This feedback is invaluable and really boosts the morale of our teams because the work we do is physically and emotionally exhausting.