How have New Zealand's donations helped Vanuatu?

How have New Zealand's donations helped Vanuatu?

On the night of Friday April 13, category five super Cyclone Pam hit Vanuatu.

Winds of up to 320km/h caused massive destruction, with more than 188,000 people affected across the country.

The scale of the misery prompted an outpouring of generosity across New Zealand.

UNICEF New Zealand received more than $2.5 million in donations. So where has it all gone?

Four months after Vanuatu's monster cyclone the scars are still obvious. Homes, shops, health clinics – the damage is extreme and everywhere – but it was the damage to the country's schools that hurt the most.

"It was quite an experience for some of our students. When they come back to school we tried to just talk, talk with them to get their thinking back again," says Vila North School deputy principal Ronald Thompson.

Across much of the country the school is the centre of village life. It's not just a school; it's a community centre as well, which means the damage experienced is felt throughout the population.

In total 187 classrooms were totally destroyed, 490 staff houses were damaged and 218 kindergartens were either damaged or destroyed.

For the head of UNICEF in the Pacific, helping the schools get back on their feet was key to helping the entire country.

"In the beginning we were really focusing on getting children back into a safe space and learning and fast as possible," says UNICEF Pacific representative Karen Allen.

Of the $2.5 million UNICEF received from the New Zealand public, including $1 million donation from philanthropists Jo and Gareth Morgan, 44 percent was put towards education.

The funds were used for everything from tents and tarps to learning resources, to school bags.

"When the first time they give the bag, they forget all the things and bad feelings," says King's Cross Primary School headmaster Marcel Nietu.

Having the kids safely back in school also gave UNICEF an opportunity to protect the whole population from an outbreak of disease.

"We used the New Zealand money for a massive measles campaign. We reached about 24,000 children," says Ms Allen.

But in what the UN calls the riskiest country on earth, the emphasis now is preparing for the next time nature comes to visit.

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