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Butterfly Trust

  • Butterfly Trust Update June 2021

      7 June 2021
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    Work continues in support of communities that were seriously affected or displaced following Category 5 Cyclone Harold in April 2020.

    The Butterfly Trust is currently assisting local communities improve their drinking water sources, build better sanitation facilities and maintain personal hygiene such as handwashing. Vanuatu still ranks poorly when it comes to adequate sanitation infrastructure, water access and quality of drinking water.

    Despite being Covid-free, hand hygiene needs to be continuously enforced at villages and schools. Pollution of ground wells and other sources of water for drinking and food preparation are recurring issues that also need to be addressed. Escalating climate change impacts on low-lying coastal communities can no longer be put off.

    We are emphasising WASH or Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, to link multiple objectives around Covid-19 Prevention, Community Development, Cyclone Recovery, Environmental Health and Climate Change Adaptation.

    You can read about the activities of the Butterfly Trust in our latest newsletter by following this link:

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  • Butterfly Trust Newsletter December 2020

      22 December 2020
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    2020 started with the twin challenges of Covid-19 and Tropical Cyclone Harold. TC Harold was a category 5 cyclone which struck Vanuatu with extreme force between the 4th and 6th of April. The Butterfly Trust worked hard on cyclone recovery activities within the confines of Covid-19 restrictions. Later in the year the Trust managed to return to some of its more long-term development projects.

    In spite of the pandemic, the generosity and kindness you have shown towards the people of Vanuatu this year has been overwhelming. We thank you, each and everyone of you, for your contributions.

    You can read about the activities of the Butterfly Trust in our final newsletter by following this link:

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  • Cyclone Harold & Covid-19 Responses - June 2020 Update

      1 July 2020
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    Thank you so much for your continued generosity in helping the people of Vanuatu. The Butterfly Trust is still on the ground and working on both Cyclone Harold and Covid-19 responses. You can read about all our activity on our website in the latest update at this link

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  • Cyclone Harold Response - April 2020 Update

      2 May 2020
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    Hello everyone

    Thank you all so much for being extraordinarily generous in your support of those in Vanuatu who have lost nearly everything in Cyclone Harold.

    The Butterfly Trust has been working hard on the ground and you can read about what you have enabled in the latest update on the BT website at this link -

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  • Butterfly Trust in Vanuatu 2019

      9 March 2020
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    In this update, we emphasise the different aspects of, and evolving roles of, our local partners at community, provincial and national levels. 

    Nine years from the launch of the School Fee Subsidy and Scholarship programme, the people from the Maskelyne Islands are exploring ways to advance the scheme into the next phase. Work in health and health education is also evolving. We continue to support our local partners to improve access to health services in rural communities. 

    The last year has been marked by the willingness of Ni-Vanuatu to take on the responsibility of the Butterfly Trust's programmes. This is a lengthy process which began a number of years ago.

    Read more in the latest update via the following link to our website.

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  • Butterfly Trust in Vanuatu ~ 2017/2018

      15 October 2018
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    Volcanic activity on the island of Ambae this year has caused the Vanuatu government to declare a state of emergency. The first evacuation of Ambae residents occurred in September 2017. Since then, continuous volcanic activity has resulted in the permanent relocation of the entire population of approximately 10,000.

    Living on the verge of potentially catastrophic, geological events for generations has endowed the people of Vanuatu with an innate resilience and an enduring capacity to balance uncertainty with routine. For the displaced people of Ambae, water, sanitation and hygiene needs remain high on the list of priorities. If anything, communities are more vulnerable to disease due to overcrowding, inadequate toilets, and poor sanitation practices.

    Read more in the latest update via the following link to our website.

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  • Second update for 2016

      20 November 2016
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    Hi everyone,

    Thank you so much for making the work of the Butterfly Trust possible.

    Here's the link to our website where you can read all about the progress of our work in Vanuatu since the last update.

    Aside from Vanuatu, the Trust continues to support Love Care Home, a home for orphans and abandoned children in Nagaland, northeastern India.

    Warmest regards

    Dave and Lynn


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  • First Newsletter for 2016

      4 April 2016
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    Hi everyone,

    We are still working in Vanuatu but have also expanded into India and Bangladesh.

    Go to the link to our website below to read our first newsletter of 2016 which outlines the work of the Trust since June 2015.

    Kind regards

    The Butterfly Trust Team

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  • Building educator returns from Tanna

      11 May 2015

    The Butterfly Trust's builder/educator Ian Hyde-Hills returned from Tanna a couple of days ago having inspected damaged buildings and carried out rebuilding workshops. Ian advises that the way ahead is to assist in training the building teachers of Vanuatu on a long-term sustainable basis so that the overall level of building skills in communities increases. The Trust has begun discussing this approach with local stakeholders and interested NGOs. So far the response is all positive!

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  • Rice and transport subsidies in Southeast Malekula

      11 May 2015

    On 5 May, the Butterfly Trust shipped almost half a tonne of rice to Akhamb Island and Sangalai School on the Maskelyne Islands in Southeast Malekula.

    Food is still in short supply in these places. In addition the Trust has given a transport subsidy to the people of Akhamb Island so they can travel by boat to pick up their rice from its unloading point in the Maskelynes.

    The transport subsidy was given to the Trust by VSA for this purpose. Many thanks to VSA, Aya and Jane for organising this subsidy.

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  • Health personnel arrive

      11 May 2015

    Assistance at Lamap Health Clinic

    Last week the Butterfly Trust sent Dr Anne-Marie Gaujoux to Lamap Health Centre in South Malekula to assist with medical services. The clinic is under-staffed at present badly in need of support.

    During the cyclone the local villages had approximately 80 houses destroyed or damaged, their crops have been badly affected, and their ability to earn income slashed.

    Dr Anne-Marie is the first of a steady stream of health personnel the BT will be providing to Vanuatu.

    Dr Anne-Marie is accompanied by her husband, Eric. Eric is an engineer and he is repairing the clinic's solar power system, and will also be repairing and maintaining other aspects of the clinic's infrastructure. They will be working in Lamap for two and a half weeks.

    Laboratory scientists for Vila Central Hospital

    Henry Hole, a laboratory scientist from Greymouth, arrived in Port Vila today to work at Vila Central Hospital. The hospital is understaffed in this area and Henry will bring excellent skills and experience to the lab. Henry is being supported by the Butterfly Trust and will be here for almost 4 months.

    A second laboratory scientist/microbiologist, Anna Vesty, will be arriving shortly after Henry and she will stay for 6 weeks.

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  • Second shipment of clothing on Pacific Pearl

      11 May 2015
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    Teamwork to the fore as second shipment of clothing arrived on the Pacific Pearl on Sunday 3 May.

    8 pallets of clothing arrived in Port Vila on the P&O cruise ship Pacific Pearl. The clothing was all donated by supporters of the Butterfly Trust. The clothing was quickly unpacked at the wharf, and with the Trust's band of volunteers, dispatched to the premises of local business, Volcanic Earth, for storage until distribution, which will hopefully take place in the next couple of weeks.

    Many thanks to the hard workers here in Port Vila, to Ken, Cathy, Huck and Doris and the rest of the crew back in Auckland, to everyone who donated, and to P&O and the crew of Pacific Pearl for carrying the cargo. What teamwork!

    Meanwhile, the crew of a private yacht sent 4 mixed pallets of BT clothing ashore on Tongoa last week from the first shipment. They were taken by truck to Silimauri by the head of the local Community Disaster Committee (CDC). The CDC will distribute them fairly to the whole island.

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  • Pacific Pearl & Butterfly Trust in Port Vila

      26 April 2015
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    Yesterday the Pacific Pearl arrived in Port Vila and discharged the first 11 pallets of clothing shipped in by the Butterfly Trust. Many thanks to Captain Sagani and his crew for the enthusiasm which they are showing for assisting the people of Vanuatu.

    We are hoping to load the clothing onto a vessel traveling north to the badly affected Shepherd Islands on Wednesday. Jotham Napat, the Director-General of the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) was also present at the wharf and confirmed that the clothing was needed by those communities.

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  • Vanuatu aid coming on the Pacific Pearl

      20 April 2015
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    In Auckland today, the Butterfly Trust team loaded 11 pallets of aid, primarily food and clothing, onto the P&O cruise ship, Pacific Pearl. Pacific Pearl is carrying the pallets for free to Vanuatu (big thanks to P&O and their agents ISS-McKay Ltd).

    Big thanks also to Ken, Cathy and Cameron from the Butterfly Trust team in Auckland who organised collection and delivery of this aid.

    Pacific Pearl will be arriving in Port Vila on Saturday 25 April.

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  • Water and jerry cans to Avock and Akhamb

      20 April 2015

    On 15 April, two Blackhawk helicopters flew jerry cans of water onto Avock and Akhamb Islands in South Malekula. The water was sourced from HMNZS Canterbury. This operation was organised by the Butterfly Trust at the request of the villagers.

    The Blackhawks were met by villagers keen to unload the water and pour it into the tanks they had recently cleaned. The villagers were organised by Mr Ivan Meltely, head teacher of Akhamb Primary School, and Mr Bill Andrew, head teacher of Namaru Primary School at Avock.

    The water has provided these islands, both of which rely on the collection of rain water, a buffer of comfort. With the dry season approaching it is important their tanks are clean and full. Hopefully forecast rain will finish the job.

    Each household now has a jerry can for its own use, with extras being given to the schools and kindergartens.

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  • Don's assessments in West Ambrym and South Malekula

      12 April 2015
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    Earlier this week I visited West Ambrym and South Malekula to assess the damage done by TC Pam.

    While these areas were not as badly hit as islands in the Shepherds group or in the south of Vanuatu, the people still lost their main income cash crops of Copra, Cocoa and Kava, and most of their vegetable gardens, which they depend on for daily sustenance. Their water supplies were polluted by salt and windblown vegetation. West Ambrym also suffers from acid rain from its local active volcanoes (Mt Marum and Mt Benbow) which affects the islanders' gardens.

    The islanders all need food, fresh water, and building materials to re-build damaged houses and community buildings such as schools and churches. The people of West Ambrym have had 1 delivery of rice, tinned meat and noodles, but the people of South Malekula have been overlooked so far. Their stores ran out of rice 2 days after the cyclone occurred on March 13, so they have very little to eat. I interviewed a widow – who has 6 children – she needs help!

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  • Engineer on Maskelyne Islands Part 2

      11 April 2015
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    Pete Wederell, contracted by the Butterfly Trust, helicoptered back to the Maskelyne Islands to fix the desalination plant with some new pieces and parts.

    The desalination plant was not a Butterfly Trust project, but that of another NGO. It was funded by NZ Aid / MFAT. It was built about 3 years ago.

    Pete is the Vanuatu agent for the manufacturers of the plant. However, even he was defeated by the job and the desalination plant remains in disrepair, unfortunate given this time of need.

    However, on the up side, rain is expected and this will hopefully provide enough water stocks to carry the islanders through the dry season which begins in May.

    The islanders have asked for more water tanks!

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  • Butterfly Trust team member on West Ambrym and south Malekula

      7 April 2015

    Don Bradford, a member of the Butterfly Trust team on the ground in Vanuatu, travelled to West Ambrym via the HMAS Tobruk and helicopter. He will be heading towards South Malekula tomorrow. Don is part of the 6 person NDMO (National Disaster Management Office) assessment team assessing damage and relief efforts in these areas.

    More reports in a few days' time.

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  • Water Engineer and Food and Water Assessments on Maskelyne Islands

      5 April 2015
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    Yesterday Pete Wederell, an engineer of Port Vila, was helicoptered to the Maskelyne Islands by the Butterfly Trust to try and fix a desalination plant. Dave and Lynn, the trustees of the Trust went with him to carry out preliminary food and water assessments.

    Pete and Benson Tangou, head teacher at the local school and also a trustee of the Butterfly Trust, worked manfully for almost 3 hours to fix the problems with the plant, but were defeated by the helicopter's time schedule and the need for further equipment.

    All is not lost however, the Trust has applied for a further helicopter to be made available early this week so Pete can return and finish the job. Doing so will hopefully alleviate the water shortage being faced by the islands.

    Dave and Lynn managed to get their preliminary food and water assessments done, as well as obtaining video and photograph footage. This information will be provided to the government agencies concerned with a strong request to meet the needs of this community.

    While the damage it has suffered is not nearly as great as in other parts of Vanuatu, there still appears to be both a water and food shortage.

    The civilian Bell helicopter, piloted by Paul and Phil, was kindly made available through the Australian Defence Force.

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  • Cyclone Pam Update - March 30 Update

      30 March 2015
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    It has been over two weeks since category 5 Cyclone Pam tore through Vanuatu leaving widespread destruction and damage. Since then the Butterfly Trust has been working hard to assist with the relief effort and put in place programmes for longer term recovery.

    The Trust’s team on the ground in Vanuatu consists of Dave and Lynn Colbert, our local advisory trustees and committee members, Don Bradford, Linda Trenkner, Benson Tangou, Abed Kamsel and Viran Tovu, our in-country manager Tony Batten, and our coordinator Aya Pigdon. Our fundraising team (Vijay, Hannah, Cathy, Ken, Barbara, Helen, and Anne) is also working hard in New Zealand, as are Huck and Doris Chua, Jane Spear in Hamilton, Liz Price in Nelson and Anne and Eric Simmons, also in Nelson.

    We are also working closely with a number of organisations such as Yacht Aid Global, Kaleva Yachting Services, and Rotary.


    The Trust’s strategy is to assist in the relief work wherever possible, but also to maintain its focus on the long-term objective of providing access to education and health services.

    To achieve this, the Trust has been working very closely with the international relief effort and the Vanuatu government. There is a coordinated effort going on which is overseen by the government. The NGOs gather into groups called “clusters” which work on specific areas of need. The Trust has been working with separate clusters for food security and agriculture (FSAC), water and sanitation (WASH), shelter, education, health, and infrastructure.

    Immediate relief work

    • Gathering information

    The Trust has been appointed the coordinating organisation for gathering informal assessments from overlooked areas. We have been appointed by the Food Security and Agriculture cluster (FSAC) which is responsible for getting emergency food to affected areas. So far, we have identified south Malekula as an area previously overlooked. It has suffered a lot more damage than previously thought.

    As a result south Malekula has now been made a Priority 3 food distribution area. We have no other information that indicates any other areas have been overlooked.

    • On the ground relief

    Since the declaration of south Malekula as a Priority 3 distribution area, the Trust has been working to get food, clean water and shelter to the area. On Saturday, we arranged for a large supply of Aquatabs to be helicoptered to the Maskelyne Islands and Akhamb Island in south Malekula. Water supplies there are short and drinking water is contaminated.

    We are also working to get food from northwest Malekula or Santo sent down to south Malekula to alleviate the immediate food shortage. We are working with Caritas and the French Red Cross to get shelter supplies eg. tarpaulins, to south Malekula, especially to the larger centre of Lamap.

    We are exploring with the Ministries of Education and Public Works, ways of getting the large number of schools which are damaged, rebuilt as quickly as possible. We are particularly focused on the island of Tongoa which is one of the worst-affected areas.

    We have a number of doctors and nurses available to come to Vanuatu if required by the Ministry of Health. Luckily, because of the relatively low death toll, they have not been required yet.

    Longer term work

    • We are in the early stages of establishing a rebuilding education programme with some of the larger NGOs. This is designed to work closely with the islanders to develop ways in which their housing can be strengthened in readiness for any future disaster.

    • We are also in the early stages of setting up a community health education programme which now has particular relevance given the possibility of disease outbreak after disasters such as Cyclone Pam.

    • All our usual programmes such as school fee subsidies, dental treatment and medical treatment will hopefully continue as usual this year.


    We have had a wonderful response to our call for funds to assist in the relief work. All of you have given so generously, both individuals and corporations.

    We are incredibly grateful for all the support and encouragement you have given. It is amazing. Thank you so much for thinking about the small island nation of Vanuatu which has been devastated by the cyclone. The people here are very resilient and are showing great heart in picking up the pieces of their lives, but it makes it a lot easier for them to know that people like you, actually care for them.

    Tankyu tumas.

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      16 March 2015
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    Thank you so much for supporting the work of the Butterfly Trust in Vanuatu in the aftermath of Cyclone Pam. Your generosity so far has been huge, humbling, and inspiring.

    Your donations will be used in our core areas of health and education in the outer islands of Vanuatu, to facilitate medical services, to rebuild damaged school and health clinic infrastructure, and to ensure that students still have enough money to attend school.

    All your donations will be applied 100% to these projects. None will be used for administrative purposes. This is one of our key principles. Administrative costs are met primarily by the trustees.

    Please tell your friends and acquaintances about this fundraising site so they can donate too.

    Many, many thanks.

    Dave and Lynn Colbert

    Trustees of the Butterfly Trust

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  • Big thanks to Epsom Girls' Grammar School and St. Peter's College Years 7 and 8

      25 January 2015
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    In Term 3 of 2014, EGGS and St Peter's College Years 7 and 8 helped the Butterfly Trust raise a total of $2430. 100% of this money will go towards the Butterfly Trust's school fee subsidy programme in 2015.

    Funds raised will help students from 4 villages in the remote Maskelyne islands in Vanuatu attend secondary school.

    The Butterfly Trust subsidises NZ$333 per child each year. The approximate cost of secondary school fees in Vanuatu is NZ$1000 per year for each child.

    In 2015, there are 63 students in total.

    Once again, TANKYU TUMAS to EGGS and St Peter's College for your generosity and goodwill.

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