This week ActionAid teamed up with Greenpeace and its most famous ship, the Rainbow Warrior, to deliver aid to cyclone-struck Vanuatu.
Rainbow Warrior welcome to VanuatuPosted by Mike Fincken on Sunday, May 17, 2015
The Rainbow Warrior set sail from Sydney three weeks ago to reach Vanuatu. The South Pacific Ocean island nation - made up of 82 islands - was devastated by Cyclone Pam two months ago. The cyclone killed 24 people, destroyed nearly all of the nation's food crops and left many people homeless.
Women celebrate the Rainbow Warrior arrival
The ship was met with a traditional welcome - a dancing crowd of about 30 women from Tanna Island - who came out in force to show how grateful they were. It was an amazing sight - with their colourful traditional costume, brightly painted faces and feathers in their hair. The logistics of processing the ship's arrival were quickly overshadowed by singing and dancing.
Protecting women after a crisis
Among other essential items, the Rainbow Warrior was carrying solar torches for women, to protect themselves at night in communities where they still have no electricity. ActionAid helped ensure the delivery of clean water, food and shelter in the immediate aftermath of Cyclone Pam, but what women told us they really needed was to feel safe.
This is because, sadly, in the wake of a crisis, violence towards women often increases. As well as providing women with security equipment, we've set up women's information tents in Vanuatu that provide a safe space for women to access counselling and register their needs. In the first week alone, 3000 women visited our centres, which just goes to show how badly they needed this kind of support.
Collaborating with Greenpeace
ActionAid’s collaboration with the Rainbow Warrior came about when Greenpeace Australia’s CEO saw on Twitter that ActionAid was responding to the cyclone. He got in touch immediately to offer his ship.
We'd like to extend a huge thank you to the Greenpeace Australia Pacific team, Captain Mike, the Australian South Sea Islanders, the women and communities of Vanuatu and all our incredible supporters who helped make this amazing collaboration happen.
How you can help
We had an amazing response to our initial Vanuatu appeal but there's still a long way to go to help Vanuatu get back on its feet. As with all humanitarian disasters ActionAid's approach is to 'build back better'. For the women of Vanuatu, this means ensuring the concerns they raised about their safety and violence towards them are heard and acted upon, not just in the immediate aftermath of the cyclone, but for the rest of their lives.
If you haven't donated, or would like to donate again - please give to our appeal.