Edward Bani understands sacrifice. He supports his family in Black Sand, one of Port Vila’s poorest communities, by working as a labourer building roads on Tanna Island, a boat journey of several days from Vanuatu’s capital. He was there when Cyclone Pam, an unprecedented Category 5 tropical cyclone, hit Vanuatu, bringing absolute destruction and affecting more than half the country’s population on 22 islands.
Telecommunications on Tanna Island were cut off for more than a week and he was desperate to get home to check on his family. Frantic with worry he went to Tanna airport and, after some time, managed to get a seat on a flight back to Port Vila with a NGO. He went straight to Black Sand and was reunited with his family.
“I was so relieved to see my children Susian (1), Joana (10), Fred (18) and my wife. We all cried when we were reunited. I was so relieved. But then I saw the house. There was nothing left. Our crops had gone and there was no power on, even now it’s still not on.”
“We have moved into the kitchen (a tin shed separate to the house) which we have repaired a little but we have no money to rebuild our home. The only way to get money is to leave my family again and return to Tanna to work. I don’t want to leave them at this time but it’s our only choice. Perhaps they will have to stay in our kitchen for another two months while I earn a little money”
Like most people in Vanuatu, Edward and his family depend on their fruit and vegetable gardens as their main source of food. Supermarket supplies are expensive to buy, especially so after the storm. Money is a big problem but he’s quick to add that his daughter Joana will return to her studies as soon her badly-damaged school opens. “I don’t know where we will find the money but it’s my duty as a father to educate her. Education is her future.”
Joana, 10 year old girl from Black Sand area in Port Vila tells us her story of how she and her family survived TC Pam.