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TC Harold: Sawmill for Vanuatu Rebuild

  • Join the Celebrations: Mill for Malo Mission Accomplished

      29 July 2020
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    Tomorrow, on the 30th July, Vanuatu celebrates 40 years of Independence!

    2020 has been considerably challenging year for them, facing dual disasters of both a world wide pandemic and the necessary boarder lockdown, as well as Category 5 Tropical Cyclone devastating their northern islands. But in true Vanuatu style, they have proven their resilience, the strength of their community spirit and their unity. Mill for Malo has been a wonderful example of the Ni Vanuatu ability and heart to dig deep, to serve and sacrifice for the benefit of their community and their children.

    This is a significant week for Vanuatu and an appropriate time to conclude our updates following the Mill for Malo journey. Please do click on the link below to read through and enjoy the various celebrations of this journey, highlighting all that has been achieved and the wonderful team that have made it possible...

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  • Welcome Back to School!

      26 June 2020
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    This update is a short and sweet celebration of a rather significant milestone! While the Mill for Malo team continue their operations around the island, the Avunatari School has now opened its doors to its students! With the timber provided by Joe and his team, the school community have been able to make repairs to their classrooms far earlier than anticipated. Less than 3 months after communities all over northern Vanuatu where literally flattened by TC Harold, school children on Malo are celebrating the rebuild of their school and the opportunity to continue their education! We trust that puts a smile on your heart this weekend!!!

    For more stories, photos and our full update please copy and paste this link...

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  • Rebuild work underway...

      8 June 2020
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    Over the last three weeks, Mill For Malo have served the three largest schools in West Malo: Narajewelu. Avunatari, Nandiatu, supplying about 6,000 lineal metres of timber.

    Across northern Vanuatu, with schools lying in ruins, children have been continuing a basic education with learning packs at home - this would look very different from the recent online schooling NZ children were offered while in lockdown! But the good news is, for our schools on Malo, thanks to the milling operations, rebuild is within reach... in Avunatari, work has already begun. Parents and community have mobilised to do a big clean up, preparing the school to reopen later this month. To start with, they rebuilt a local staff house which will allow a teacher to move back to school and start preparing for the children to return. To help these schools Build Back Better, we have already received over $2,000 additional donations in the last week! - many thanks to everyone who has contributed for these hardware packs. More info on their delivery in future updates :-)

    Years to rebuild buildings and economy

    Last week, Mill for Malo continued work in West Malo, supporting other community rebuild priorities. Pastor Takeh of Faith Assemblies of God describes TC Harold as being the most incredible disaster they have faced in history. He says they will never forget watching the roofs of houses peeled off as the fury of the cyclone passed over them. Malo relies on coconut and cocoa as their main source of income, but with these resources destroyed, he believes it will take at least 5-6 years for their economy to recover. With such severe destruction all around, he had almost given up hope of rebuilding his church knowing it would cost over NZ$4,000 (300,000vt) and, with peoples homes and livelihoods in ruins, it would take nothing short of a miracle to find that kind of money. His church is the heart of his community, home to over 53 households and over 100 children.

    Without much hope of help, the church community had carefully worked to recycle all available iron roofing and timber and were then thrilled to learn that the Mill for Malo team would come to work with them. The community got really involved in the milling... lending a hand to move huge logs when the teams equipment broke! Carrying timber from the bush to boat and transporting it around to their community. Cooking delicious meals for the team while the work was underway.

    With the timber provided, they plan to rebuild the roof on a 16m building and rebuild another 22m building. Paster Takeh, on behalf of the pastors of Malo, would like to acknowledge the team for their dedication and sacrifices, leaving their own families behind to help families on Malo. He honored Joe and his team for their hard work and heart for service, acknowledging there would be no way to repay such kindness.

    Thank you for your kindness and generosity - you have helped make a way, where there seemed no way!

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  • A Heart for Service

      29 May 2020
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    Important work at Nandiutu School:

    Malo's Nandiutu Bilingual College has a role of 156, including 39 year 10 students. Some of these students would normally board here in one of two school dormitories, as well as at least 5 staff live on site. But today, the school is damaged and empty. Without operational classrooms, the management are considering education alternatives such as sending their year 10 students, along with one teacher, to the mainland to complete the school year and ready them for exams. This is how tough the reality of this disaster is on students and their learning. In remote islands like Malo, a school destroyed, means a significant disruption to student learning.

    Nandiutu's rebuild list is huge - classrooms, staff houses, a school clinic, the toilet block, dormitories, desks and chairs. And that's why the Mill for Malo team are there now - working tirelessly, shifting incredible sized logs with man power alone, and turning them into useable timber for the rebuild!

    Celebrating a heart of service:

    After a big weeks work at Avunatari school last week, milling over 2,200 lineal metres of timber to repair classrooms, the schools dining hall and kitchen as well as a staff house, Joe Iautu was given the honor of bringing a message to the community at their Sunday church service. Church is often the center of a communities life in Vanuatu and it is a real privilege and sign of respect to be invited to speak.

    Joe chose a passage to read to the congregation; a passage he and his team felt encouraged by before they left their home island of Tanna last month...

    Deuteronomy 15:7-8

    "If there is a poor man with you, one of your brothers,

    in any of your towns in your land which the Lord you God is giving you,

    you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand from your poor brothers;

    but you shall freely open your hand to him,

    and shall generously lend him sufficient for his need in whatever he lacks."

    This passage really highlights Joe and his teams heart to serve their fellow countrymen and women. They recognised their northern brothers and sisters were brought low by TC Harold and left with incredible need.

    The Mill for Malo team, both the operations team as well as our donors and supporters, have stepped up with generous hearts and open hands to bring hope... a moving message of service brought to the community of Avunatari!

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  • Three Classrooms: Worth a Celebration

      14 May 2020
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    On Saturday evening, after a week of dedicated milling, our Mill for Malo team were honored by the Najaraiwelu school community for their help. A special celebration was held, chiefly speeches delivered and traditional food enjoyed. The team were recognised for their service, their rapid and practical response to the TC Harold disaster and the impact of this project for the communities children.

    Chief Alfred Mata noted that without the team, the fallen trees would be left to rot, instead of being used to help rebuild. He has a heart for his grandchildren and he gifted the wood from his land to the school, knowing one day in the future his grandchildren would benefit from this.

    For their first weeks work, Joe and the Mill for Malo team milled over 2,000 lineal metres of timber - enough to rebuild and repair three classrooms! To put this into context, when I was on Tanna in 2016, over a year after TC Pam, there were many classrooms still in ruins, children being taught in emergency tent shelters. It is incredibly significant and empowering for this community, less than two months after the cyclone, to have the resources for their school to rebuild and for their children to return to learning in the not too distant future.

    Work beings at Avunatari School

    This weeks we are working with Avunatari Primary School. This school has sustained significant damage to its classrooms, as well as auxiliary rooms including the school kitchen, dining hall, library and staff house. The desks and chairs are ruined, and while, only a few years ago the school received a whole new library, today the few books that are barely salvageable are left to dry in the sun. Where there were once children running and playing happily on the fields overlooking the ocean, today the empty buildings stand forlorn.

    But not for long! On Tuesday, 16 logs were prepared for another big week of milling. This time they're getting efficient, prepping all the logs first and bringing them to the school grounds, so they can spend the rest of the week creating timber to the builders specs. Yesterday, they whizzed through 7 logs creating over 400 lineal metres in one day.

    With your help, one day soon, those children will again run to their classrooms and continue their education, because you responded with generosity! Once again, thank you for being part of the Mill for Malo team!

    To receive our mailchimp newsletter updates which have a lot more pictures of the communities, work and the teams progress please do use this link to read & subscribe...

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  • Milling Begins

      5 May 2020
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    Today the Mill for Malo team commenced operations!

    It has been a whirlwind week for them - the mill departed from Tanna last Wed, from there they went north to Vila, on to Pentacost, then Santo on the government aid charter, then traveled by local banana boat to Malo on Monday morning.

    Joe Iautu, their team leader, had gone ahead of them and started making arrangements with the islands Disaster Management Chairmen as well as their MP and a number of local school principals.

    One school, Najaraiwelu School, has been incredibly well organised, getting permission from local land owners for wood stock, identifying classrooms they want to repair/rebuild, and giving us a full cutting list of their timber needs. All within two days of initial conversations! Sadly, when you see photos of their school you can see why they are so motivated...

    Najariwelu had its classrooms completely destroyed by TC Harold, one literally flattened, but now, with the help of our timber, the leadership team have plans to rebuild these two destroyed classrooms, as well as three school auxiliary rooms and one teacher house!

    With a clear plan from Najariwelu, when the mill arrived on Monday afternoon, after setting up a base camp with their supplies, our team were able to get straight to work Tuesday morning. Over the day they have milled 3 big logs - providing over 280 lineal metres of 4x2 to kick start this rebuild project!

    We are very grateful to have made a connection with a dedicated local broadcaster (BJBN) who was able to capture this exciting moment on video. (copy this link to view)

    In the video you can see and celebrate the Mill for Malo's incredible efforts and get a tangible sense of just how they are bringing the hope of rebuild to broken communities.

    Many thanks again for your help in making this project possible. Today a school has started to be rebuilt with your help!

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  • Mill embarks for Malo

      30 April 2020
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    This is a big update as things have moved very rapidly in the last 7 days!

    Earlier on, our mill project was approved by Vanuatus National Disaster Management Office and allocated to go to a small island called Malo, just south of Santo. This island was hit directly by TC Harold and suffered significant damage.

    We had started discussing logistics to get up there and were advised a government charter would be down to Tanna in the next couple of weeks to pick the mill up, so were in preparation and planning mode.

    Next minute, the ship has arrived and its all action! Joe our team leader flew to Vila yesterday and onto Santo today to start making arrangements.

    The mill was loaded onto the ship, then petrol drums, then their food and solar panels (there is no power on Malo so they literally have to take everything!). They're picking up tents and tarpaulins in Vila as well as a repairs & maintenance kit and their PPE.

    As of this morning, the whole team are on their way to Mill for Malo!

    We are so thankful for all your donations because it has made this rapid response possible. Without the certainty of financial backing for this project, it would have been folly to load the mill onto the boat yesterday - but you have all contributed and made it possible to move! So, many many thanks and I look forward to sharing more with you over coming days as we bring the hope of rebuild to the people of Malo.

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  • 80% of homes damaged

      16 April 2020
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    Yesterday the Shelter cluster rapid response assessment came out, highlighting that over 80% of homes had sustained damage in the northern provinces of Sanma, Penama and Malampa. This is devastating news as it means countless children, women and men are without homes tonight, and tomorrow night, and until they can find the resources to rebuild a roof over their head. Sadly for communities who rely on local resources for building, the leaves and branches they would use have been blown away...

    Vanuatu's borders remain closed to outside aid due to the risk of Covid 19. The only way to get help to these very vulnerable communities is by in-country assistance. Our sawmill on Tanna is ready to be deployed... we just need the funds to make it freely available to these communities...

    We are so thankful for and encouraged by your donations... so far we have enough to mill timber for two weeks ... please help us make it ten, by sharing this donation page with your friends and family... encourage them to extend their generosity out of our NZ bubble to our Vanuatu friends and their very damaged bubble...

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