We’ve hit $10,000 in donations!!

Last week we reached a milestone of $10,000 in donations !

Once again, we thank everyone who has supported this fundraiser so far with their generous donations. A big shout out goes to the local businesses up in sunny Mackay, Queensland for getting behind this appeal and helping us reach the $10,000 milestone.

We’d like to reach a target of $15,000 to show our love for the Mele Village community.

Our next installment of donations will be sent over on Monday 22 June 2015, so please help us get as many further donations in for this date as possible.

Dive Adventures

Another $1,700 of donations delivered: Vanuatu Trip Report

We have just returned from taking a group of dive industry professionals over to Vanuatu – Port Vila and Tanna –  to see how the nation and the dive resorts are recovering after Cyclone Pam, and to witness first hand how this Vanuatu Dive Cyclone Appeal has had an impact on the Mele Village community.

This is MARK GREEN’s account of his visit.

The most striking thing that hit me on arrival into Port Vila is the smile of the Ni-Vanuatu – you will not come across a more friendly and resilient people.

Cyclone Pam wreaked havoc in Vanuatu in March – it was the second strongest recorded cyclone – but this did not deter the Vanuatu people, they have just kept on going and they just keep on smiling!

We spent three nights at Hideaway Island Resort just outside of Port Vila. You can hardly notice that a cyclone passed over this resort, the only indication now being that a few trees are down and some vegetation is missing. All the accommodations are fine and it is business as usual at Hideaway. The Ocean Front Bungalows have incredible sunrise or sunset views depending what side of the island you stay on. There is also the Dorm for the more budget conscious – these are very clean and presentable with 2 double bunk beds per dorm room and shared bathroom facilities, as well as Twin Rooms with shared facilities.

Ocean Front Bungalow at Hideaway Island Resort - as you can see everything is intact and structurally sound
Ocean Front Bungalow at Hideaway Island Resort – as you can see everything is intact and structurally sound
One of the big trees that came down in the cyclone on Hideaway Island
One of the big trees that came down in the cyclone on Hideaway Island

Kathleen’s Bommie is a 5 minute boat ride from Hideaway. The top of the bommie is in 14-16 metres of water and visibility was a good 20-25 metres with fantastic sea life – moray eels, heaps of anemone fish and schooling pelagics.

Big Blue dive centre, based in downtown Port Vila, took us out to Twin Bommies with an amazing 40 metre plus visibility. I have to say this dive site has one of the best hard coral structures I have ever seen – staghorn, plate and vast colourful coral gardens with nice drop offs. There was plenty of sea life with schooling pelagics around the two bommies, a sea snake and turtles. This dive site was pretty much left untouched by the cyclone.

You could see some impact from the cyclone on Hideaway’s house reef but you can tell the reef is already on the mend and this is still a great dive with turtles , anemone fish and blue spotted rays – all this straight off the front of the resort.

We loved all the anemone fish
We loved all the anemone fish

Our second day in Port Vila was an important one for Dive Adventures and the diving community to give back to those in need. Since Cyclone Pam struck in March, Dive Adventures and the diving community have been raising funds for Mele Village near Hideaway Island Resort to assist with providing some basic supplies for the village. Essentially a lot of the houses and village’s basic necessities were destroyed in the cyclone.

Thanks to the diving community, the Dive Cyclone Appeal had raised another $1,700 of donations which has been sent over to Port Vila, enough money to buy packs of washing powder and pegs for each home in Mele Village. We took the ute packed with all the packages over to the village and distributed the washing packs to as many homes as we could in the limited time we had.

Driving into Mele with 381 washing packs - one for each home in the village
Driving into Mele with 381 washing packs – one for each home in the village
Taking a break from the deliveries with our new friends
Taking a break from the deliveries with our new friends
Di making a delivery
Di making a delivery

The group also took over used clothing to donate and a special mention goes out to Kel Bradley who collected over 11 boxes of clothes donations through the St George Underwater Dive Club – well done guys! The boxes were split between the two schools in the area whereby the teachers distributed them amongst all the students.

The schools are still in need of repairs. Some of the classrooms have a fair bit of water damage and at present, UNICEF has set up tents in the school as make-shift portable classrooms. The winds were so ferocious during the cyclone, that the roof got ripped off the main school building (whilst the school’s principal was still inside!), after which the concrete walls of the building just started collapsing all around him.

This was such a memorable day for everyone present – to be able to give back to the Vanuatu community and see the smiles and on their faces and their contagious excitement, especially those of the children as we handed out the supplies. It was such a moving experience.

Later that day we went for a tour of Port Vila to see the rest of the town and the impact from the cyclone. Overall, it’s business as usual in this bustling town.

In Tanna we stayed at White Grass Ocean Resort which now has an onsite dive operator offering shore diving. The resort, is a 3 ½ star property overlooking White Grass Bay. It has 14 bungalows catering for up to 40 guests with an amazing view from every room.  The restaurant/bar area is situated on a point overlooking the bay with wood shutters that allow the breeze to come flowing through while you listen to the sound of the ocean and watch the amazing sunset. The resort is fully operational after the cyclone and there is no damage to the property except for a lesser amount of surrounding foliage.

White Grass Ocean Resort is open and welcoming guests
White Grass Ocean Resort is open and welcoming guests

We dived at Blue Hole One which is made up of 3 different sink holes that are inter-connected via swim throughs and caverns. These structures were formed via the wear of volcanic rock. The Blue Holes were only 50 metres from the shore and are accessible via shore dive.

We also did a dive into a pool of volcanic origin which was the beginning of an interesting dive. Crossing the pool revealed a swim through which is best described as a tunnel, which narrowed and opened, twisted and turned. Half way we discovered a washing machine tub in an opening called “The Laundry. Continuing on, we emerged outside the reef and headed north to explore a myriad of volcanic and reef structures, absolutely punctuated with loads of swim throughs, some of which led to the surface.

In Tanna, the 6 hour tour to Mt Yasur is a must do! At 640 metres arriving at the Volcano was like a luna landscape with black ash everywhere. One of the only active volcanoes that you watch from the rim, you could see and hear its explosive eruptions. As the sun went down you had the glow of the redness of the volcano with the periodic eruptions lighting up the sky – simply spectacular!

Mount Yasur's crater was covered in mist the evening we visited but it was still an impressive sight
Mount Yasur’s crater was covered in mist the evening we visited but it was still an impressive sight

On the way up to the volcano you can see the destruction of the rainforest areas and trees from the cyclone and some of the local communities – we can only wish them a speedy recovery with help from international aid agencies.

We did a tour of the local Tanna village to see their way of life and was shown the largest Banyan tree in the world – covering an area over 200 metres, growing more than 100 metres across and 80 metres high. Massive is the word! The local landowners say it is believed to be over 600 years old.

Climbing the world's biggest banyan tree
Climbing the world’s biggest banyan tree

I would like to thank Hideaway Island Resort, Big Blue Dive in Port Vila and White Grass Ocean Resort for their hospitality and for showing us what Vanuatu has to offer.

If you would like to assist Vanuatu in their recovery after Cyclone Pam, one of the most effective ways would be to visit Vanuatu on your next holiday. Tourism is such an important part of the local economy. Your presence will go far to keep the locals employed and the economy buoyant.

Tankyu tumas from Mele Village: Seedling parcels delivered

MELE STILL SMILES!

Over the weekend, the seedling parcels put together from your kind donations to this fundraiser were delivered to each house in Mele Village. Each packet contained 4 Bok Choi, 3 Lettuce and 2 Assorted Bean seed packets.

Your $5,288 of donations has the potential to be turned into approximately $100,000 of cash for Mele Village if all the seeds were to grow into vegetables and all the vegetables were to be sold at Port Vila Market. This is a fantastic result to start off with and the delivery was most eagerly received by all the homes in Mele.

The people of Mele Village thank you all for your donations and we thank everyone over in Port Vila who helped us organise the purchase, packaging and delivery of the seeds to Mele.

Further below are some images we have from the weekend delivery.

We are running this fundraiser for Mele Village until the end of September, so please continue to help us spread awareness of the campaign to raise more donations. Away from the main parts of Port Vila, there is still much to be done to get Vanuatu back to where it was before Cyclone Pam came through, so every little bit counts.

Don’t forget that in return for your generosity, you have the chance to win some incredible prizes in the Lucky Prize Draw Raffle that will be held at the end of the Appeal.

Scubapro Australia is donating a full set of scuba gear valued at $4,724.

Lissenung Island Resort and Dive Adventures is donating an 8 night dive holiday to Lissenung Island Resort in Kavieng, Papua New Guinea including flights ex Australia for 1 person valued at $4,300.

Hideaway Island Resort and Dive Adventures is donating a 7 night dive holiday to Hideaway Island in Port Vila, Vanuatu including flights ex Australia for 1 person valued at $2,300.

Each donation between $20 – $99 earns you 1 entry into the raffle.

Each donation between $100 – $199 earns you 2 entries into the raffle.

Each donation of $200 and over earns you 3 entries into the raffle.

We hope to see lots more donations coming through!

The seedling parcels are all packaged and ready to be delivered
The seedling parcels are all packaged and ready to be delivered
Tankyu tumas!
Tankyu tumas!
Driving the truck into the village to do the deliveries
Driving the truck into the village to do the deliveries
The kids want to help us out
The kids want to help us out
Big smiles all round!
Big smiles all round!

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Seedling packets on order, soon to be delivered to Mele

Thank you to everyone who has donated to this Fundraiser for Mele Village so far. We managed to raise an amazing $5,288 of donations for our first installment to Mele. After consultation with various Mele groups it was decided that the most fair, equitable and best benefit for money at this point in time was to spend these generous donations on seeds for crops. The Mele community decided that what they needed most was sustainable food crops to be able to be grown for the future for both personal consumption and to earn a living for sale at market.

For example, lettuce at market are currently selling at double the regular price due to the destruction of crops by Cyclone Pam.

We have a bulk order of Dwarf Bean seedlings, Pak Choi seedlings and Lettuce seedlings with Vanuatu Agricultural Supplies which have finally arrived in Vanuatu.

The arrival of the seedlings were delayed due to the disruption of flight services with Air Vanuatu to Port Vila. With the resulting fewer flights, all freight space had been allocated to perishable food items.

There are 381 homes in the Mele community, so the seeds will be divided and re-packaged into 381 bags containing approximately 500 seedlings per bag.

We’re looking forward to seeing delivery of these seedlings to each home over the coming days.

Apart from the shortage of crops, the clean up around the village continues, with mud and debris still in the process of being cleared from many Mele houses. The government is assisting with re-building the school, but the children are still in need of basic school materials and supplies.

Please keep spreading awareness of this Fundraiser so we can keep donations coming in for Mele to assist them going forward in the future.

Cleaning up mud from the storm damage in Mele
Cleaning up mud from the storm damage in Mele

Newman Senior Technical College Gives

WE NEED ANOTHER $2,700 TO HIT OUR TARGET FOR OUR FIRST FUNDING INSTALLMENT!

It’s now 11 days into our campaign of calling upon divers and the dive industry to help our friends in Mele Village in their time of need.  We’re happy to say that we have gotten off to a fairly strong start with $4,300 raised so far.

Our biggest donation yet has come from the students of Newman Senior Technical College in Port Macquarie, NSW who have pooled together to raise a whopping $1,040 for this Appeal. Every 2 years, students and teachers from Newman Senior Technical College make a trip over to Hideaway Island in Port Vila. No doubt they have made many friends from the Mele community and it is wonderful to see them getting together to help them rebuild their lives after Cyclone Pam.

We are really excited to be able to send our first lot of funding over to Vanuatu after Easter but we would like to see if we could hit a target of $7,000 for our first installment, so please – anything you can do to increase the awareness of this campaign amongst your networks and have people donate to this worthy cause would be much appreciated.

We have heard that some aid has only just now been slowly filtering through to the Mele community. It seems our donation can’t come soon enough. Food is scarce and the prices in town for some fresh vegetables is phenomenal.

Think about sacrificing those chocolate Easter bunnies, cups of coffee or hot cross buns over this long weekend and donate instead to our Dive Cyclone Appeal – every little bit counts, no matter how small.

A massive thank you to everyone who has donated so far – you all know who you are! Your generosity is much appreciated.

 

Let’s get this started ….

The preliminary response to our Dive Fundraiser for Mele Village in Vanuatu has been fantastic. Dive Log Australasia has generously pledged $500 to the Appeal and Dive Adventures will also be matching this.

We have been contacted by several dive shops keen to get behind the campaign, so we do apologise for it taking us a while to get the Appeal Bank Account set up as we know you are all wanting to provide relief for Mele as soon as possible.

We’d like to thank Scubapro Australia, Lissenung Island Resort in Kavieng, Papua New Guinea and Hideaway Island Resort in Port Vila, Vanuatu for also supporting this appeal by donating products for a Lucky Draw Raffle at the end of the fundraiser which will run through to 30 September 2015.

For a report on the state of Mele Village after the cyclone please visit : http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/programmes/datelinepacific/audio/20171473/mele-village-in-vanuatu-comes-to-terms-with-cyclone-rebuild

We look forward to receiving your donations.

Yours in diving,

The Team at Dive Adventures