Saturday, May 2, 2015

Recuperation Weekend –

We spent well more than our "budget" in American Samoa to have supplies when we arrived here so we could do things.  There are two more fleets also coming through with Sea Mercy to Vanuatu, but they may go to the Shefa province, skipping the Tafea province all together.

We have used up most of our medications and the doctor here in Tanna has restocked us with some more medications since we are treating all their patients with them.  The people were quite happy to have rice and tins of meat after 6 weeks of eating roots, which are now rotting.  We resupplied with 4.2 tons of food in Lenakel, Tanna and brought it up for two remote villages in conjunction with Samaritan's Purse organization.

We have been wiped out, so we are spending Saturday and Sunday recovering from steady work and transport days.  We are at a nice black sand beach with a sunken landing craft beached onshore to explore and climb and coral by the rocks to explore.  We are sitting out some strong winds in a relatively protected harbor.  Monday we are using a truck from Samaritan's Purse to go run a clinic in Lavis, a remote village in the NW Tanna with an aid post that services a large stretch of outlying communities.  Maybe as early as Tuesday, weather dependent, we will make our move to Erromango Island to bring food, tools, medications, and run clinics.  We also have a shipment from the local hospital here of emergency supplies to go to the aid post in Erromango.  Communications and shipping have been limiting their ability to get back to business as usual.

We are doing well.  Overall though, this has been a very interesting experience for our whole family and I'm glad we came.


Thursday, April 30, 2015

Food Delivery by Lil' Explorers and Chez Nous - 4/30/2015

Hello All,

On 4/29/2015 Salsa and Chez Nous had reconnoitered two villages at the north end of Tanna that have no access by land. Lil' Explorers went to Lanekal the main port of Tanna to await the report from Salsa and Chez Nous and to prepare to carry food if necessary.

When the report came back it was determined that there was a need for a little over 4.2 tons of food. Working with Samaritan's Fund and World Food Program 4.2 tons of food was procured, and a plan for loading Lil' Explorers was hatched. The following morning two launches were appropriated, and the food was loaded into the launches from the concrete wharf. There were 3 foot waves rolling through the anchorage making the little boats toss as they were being loaded, and bounce everywhere as they were rafted to the rolling Lil' Explorers unloading! The 130 60lb bags of rice were loaded onto the main crossbeams and a few random other places. The Raman Noodles soup packages and the tuna were fairly light and placed throughout the cockpit and main salon.

Lil' Explorers took the load fairly well with the swim-steps just about at water level. The trip to the first village went very well with 20 knots behind us and a nice swell helping us surf.  We arrived at the first village to a rousing welcome, anchored, and I went to shore with the Doctors, Shannon and Kim.  After greeting the chief and enjoying a hearty welcome from the village we set up two hospital areas, one under a rock ledge on some rounded stones, and the Chiropractic doctor on one of the launches with some boards spread across to make her an adjustment table. The patients came quickly as the entire village was there to help with the unloading of the food.

Next came the unloading of the food. Chez Nous had arrived with the Samaritan's Fund people, and more fenders to protect Lil' Explorers from the delivery boat. An aluminum boat was launched and ten strong men were taken to help with the unloading. (Naturally they did not have enough gas to use their boat, so 12 gallons were donated. This appears to be very typical and was not unexpected). The 60-pound bags of rice were gently tossed over the lifelines into the boat 8 feet below. By the time the villages food was unloaded the doctors had treated all the patients that had presented themselves.

Chez Nous remained at the village with Samaritan's Fund to ensure that the food was distributed equitably.  Lil' Explorers pulled anchor and headed up to the next village as the wind was projected to continue to increase throughout the day.  Upon arrival the doctors were landed again, but the village chief was not around.  The food was landed without incident and the doctors were kept very busy as the village was suffering from YAWS (a tropical infection of the skin, bones, and joints) and hence there were many sores and cuts that were not healing.

Overall the mission was a great success, with over 4 tons of food delivered, and many people treated.


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Good Times -

After a pleasant motor/sail this morning, and only losing one lure to a giant fish we arrived at the main port to this island. The wind is scheduled to start blowing hard so we are going to find a nice cozy anchorage and hunker down.

Hope that you all enjoy the lava photos. It was truly incredible!



Sailing to Vanuatu in 30 Knots

Distributing Aid and Seeing Volcano -

I have been nothing but impressed with this wonderful culture who have dug themselves out after the hurricane and moved on! They are/were traumatized, no doubt about it, but no one is yelling "who's coming to help us!" Honestly they put American's to shame in hurricane Katrina. They dug out their own roads, replanted their own crops, live off their roots that stayed in the grounds and nuts that fell from the trees, they are just getting their first crops growing after the hurricane, they can rebuild a house in 3 days (no plumbing, electric, sewer, insulation, etc., so it is a bit more simple than our construction, but they are working VERY hard, but they are doing it. No one is starving (but I do believe they are hungry and rationing food although they don't readily admit that). The roots kasava (yucca) are starting to rot, so they have run out of a staple food for now. Port Patrick got food aid and were so pleased, then we gave Port Resolution food aid yesterday and this morning they told me how wonderful it was for them to eat rice and the canned meat last night!! They are so humble and appreciative!

The World Food Organization has a warehouse of food aid here in Tanna. Samaritan's Purse is helping distribute it. Our two vessels brought the organizer for Samaritan's Purse around the north side of the island to try to evaluate two small, remote villages for population count and food and medical needs. They can't distribute food without a population count because it's based on a head count. We are in Lenekal, the main port, to pick up food if it's needed up there. Unfortunately the weather is going to turn tomorrow so it's windy, wavy, and rough seas, making delivery harder or impossible. We are also hoping to pick up medications to go to the next island Erromongo to be delivered from the hospital here.

Yesterday we had a great clinic! We rented a truck and went out to a remote village area. Initially, we stopped before the village under an opening by a huge shade tree. People came out of the woodwork. We saw 22 people in a couple of hours. We treated them in the truck, doing chiropractic on the tailgate, and leaning on the hood. Anything goes. Then we moved onto the school house where we were initially planning. They had not got the message we were coming, but another 22 people came while we were there. This was a very appreciative group with very limited medical access. The school was built of bricks, but the front wall (facing the ocean) was blown down and the roof was down. It was very interesting, I saw a goiter, old man with pneumonia, probably a 10 year old teratoma (like an 8 month gestation), a hernia, chronic leg ulcerations, some kids appeared to have protein deficiencies (big, protruding bellies), a tiny 2 year old with clearly a growth issue of some sort, but many darling fat little babies, all nursing. Oh, and, I kid you not, we saw many groups picking lice out of each other's hair, and eating them. This does not explain a protein deficiency now does it? It was right out of a nature video, but I couldn't figure out how I could take a video, so I just have a mental image on that one. On the way back up the side road, we were flagged by a community by a man wanting to be seen. Then at the top of the road was a man with red eyes that wanted treatment.

Then we headed to the volcano!!!! I've wanted to see one for soooo long! I couldn't believe it!! We walked right up to the rim and could see into the caldera. It was booming, spewing smoke and gasses, then lava and ash!! This was flying up into the air from 2 separate openings. It was absolutely amazing to be there!!! After clinics and seeing the countryside and cyclone damage all day, then the volcano at night, my battery died on my camera and my memory was full, so I am hoping Steffan (professional photographer on the other boat) got some awesome photos, but I got some. I don't have the bandwidth to upload them now! We stayed until after the sun went down, then we had a bumpy 1.5 hour ride in the back of a truck back to the boats. It was an awesome day all the way around!!!


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Volcano -

Wow, Wow! It is a real volcano spewing hot lava hundreds of feet into the air! I was hoping to see some lava, but I did not realize that we were actually going to get to look down into the actual caldron at the bottom of the volcano and see the lava being spewed high into the sky.  And this was not just one eruption, but nearly an eruption every minute!  We hope to have internet tomorrow, so maybe a video is in the near future!!


Medical Aid Clinic

Disaster Aid for Vanuatu

Helping Hands Disaster Relief