Tag Archives: DiscoverVanuatu

$13,745 donations raised for Mele Village, Port Vila – The Appeal is now Closed

Thank you to everyone for making this appeal to assist the people of Mele Village so successful. The support for this fundraiser and the Mele community has been absolutely astounding. Donations closed 30 September 2015 and overall a total of $13,745 was raised. A final $3,012 was sent over to Port Vila in our last installment in early October.

Since then, the management team over at Hideaway Island have been liasing with the two schools which service the community to determine what building materials are required, which the donations can be used for to help with the maintenance of classrooms that were damaged in the cyclone.

We are still waiting for the final requests of materials from the schools. The materials will then need to be sourced within budget for them. It’s an ongoing process that takes time and effort and we thank everyone over at Hideaway Island Resort for helping make sure the donations we have sent over have gone towards the most fair, equitable and needed goods.

The seedlings purchased with the previous donations are growing nicely and have returned some much needed nutrition for the village.

Healthy produce for healthy lives
Healthy produce for healthy lives
The fruits (or rather vegetables) of all your donations
The fruits (or rather vegetables) of all your donations
Mele's gardens are full of cabbage, lettuce, tomatoes, beans, carrots, spring onions, sweet corn and watermelon THANKS TO YOUR DONATIONS
Mele’s gardens are full of cabbage, lettuce, tomatoes, beans, carrots, spring onions, sweet corn and watermelon                              THANKS TO YOUR DONATIONS

It is with our pleasure that we would like to announce the winners of the Lucky Prize Draw for the following prizes.

Winner of the full set of scuba gear valued at $4,724 and proudly sponsored by Scubapro Australia is DAVID KING of Lake Heights, NSW

Congratulations David and thank you Scubapro Australia
Congratulations David and thank you Scubapro Australia!

Winner of the 8 night dive holiday to Kavieng in Papua New Guinea valued at $4,300 is DEBBIE DAVEY of Coffs Harbour, NSW. This prize is proudly sponsored by Lissenung Island Resort and Dive Adventures.

Congratulations Debbie! Soon you'll be diving here.
Congratulations Debbie! Soon you’ll be diving here at Lissenung Island Resort.

Winner of the 7 night dive holiday to Port Vila in Vanuatu valued at $2,300 is JULIE COLLET of Toowong, QLD. This prize is proudly sponsored by Hideaway Island Resort and Dive Adventures.

Congratulations Julie! Soon you will be diving here at Hideaway Island Resort
Congratulations Julie! Soon you will be diving here at Hideaway Island Resort

A huge congratulations goes out to these three lucky winners. We will be contacting you shortly with the full details of your prize.

Tank yu tumas!

$12,000 raised so far and more seeds delivered

Last week saw the procurement of the following seed varieties purchased with the previous installment of your donations sent over to Port Vila:

– Boxhill Lettuce – Dwarf Beans – Carrots – Tomato Roma – Lisbon Spring Onions – Watermelon –  Golden Cabbage – Sweet Corn.

This means each and every home in Mele Village will have these valuable crops to grow for consumption or sale in the coming months.

The Mele community sends a big thank you to all the wonderful sponsors of this fundraiser – Scubapro Australia, Lissenung Island Resort, Hideaway Island Resort and Dive Adventures and to all those within and outside of the dive community who have so generously donated to the Appeal.

A special shout out goes to Underwater Sports Diving Centre down in Adelaide, South Australia who recently held a fundraising event for this appeal and managed to raise a massive $1,200 for Mele Village.

We would also like to personally thank everyone over in Port Vila who have been so instrumental in co-ordinating and organising all the purchases and deliveries for this Appeal – you know who you are!

$12,000 has been raised overall and we’d like to raise another $3,000 to hit our target of $15,000 for the Appeal.

The Appeal will be held open until the end of September 2015 as originally planned, so if you can rustle up any more donations amongst your network of dive buddies, friends, families etc before then it would be much appreciated.

And don’t forget that donations $20 and over go into the Prize Draw Raffle at the end of the Appeal to win some fantastic dive gear and dive holidays from the sponsors.

We hope you enjoy the pictorial story below from delivery day.

The varieties of seeds procured
The varieties of seeds procured
Sorting the seeds into individual packages
Sorting the seeds into individual packages
A total of 381 bags of assorted seeds ready to drop at each home in Mele
A total of 381 bags of assorted seeds ready to drop at each home in Mele
Here we go from Hideaway Island Resort to Mele Village
Here we go from Hideaway Island Resort to Mele Village
The first recipients of many in Mele Village are extremely grateful
The first recipients of many in Mele Village are extremely grateful
It's been so wonderful to see the benefits and rewards of the first seed drop come to fruition producing healthy crops for the village
It’s been so wonderful to see the benefits and rewards of the first seed drop come to fruition producing healthy crops for the village
Thank you, thank you, thank you - the people of Mele Village are so grateful for the delivery of more seeds
Thank you, thank you, thank you – the people of Mele Village are so grateful for the delivery of more seeds

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The last of the smiles, this picture says it all - we got a big thumbs up even from the pikininis
The last of the smiles, this picture says it all – we got a big thumbs up even from the pikininis

Another $3,745 of donations sent to Vanuatu

Just a small update for everyone on how the Dive Cyclone Appeal is progressing.

At the end of June we sent over another $3,745 of your generous donations to Vanuatu. Our liasons over in Port Vila have been in close consultation with the village chiefs and have been carefully considering the best way to use these funds to most fairly benefit everyone in Mele Village. After much thought and deliberation, and in an attempt not to double up on other relief efforts, the group are in the process of trying to procure more seeds that can be planted in the coming months when the weather avails itself to different crops. This decision has been based on the success from the first seed programme and the wonderful direct impact and benefit this has had on the village.

At present, they are unable to secure enough seeds of the correct variety to be able to supply every household in Mele due to a big shortage in supply, and they are currently under negotiations for 11 varieties of product of seed. These seeds are expected to arrive approximately 10 August from the supplier and will be distributed to all the homes in Mele thereafter, subject to successful negotiations. The next lot of seeds will come at a good time as the rain dissipates to allow these types of vegetables to flourish in the best environment for successful and fruitful crops.

We hope this brings a smile to your faces as it has with us seeing the people of Mele so excited and very thankful of everyone who have sent donations via this fundraiser.

A big tank u tumas from everyone at Mele.

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.