Cyclone Pam wreaked havoc throughout the pristine islands of Vanuatu earlier this month and while the images and stories told in the media no doubt generated feelings of sympathy for most people, for Seashells Hospitality Group Managing Director Paul King the story was a lot more personal.
Paul had the good fortune of sailing through Melanesia during winter last year and fell in love with the ‘happy islands’ and with their people. He visited islands from north to south of Vanuatu, including Dillon’s Bay, Erromango and Tanna Island.
The seasoned traveller was so taken with the country he was looking into land for retirement and for future Seashells Hospitality Group ventures.
“Having been travelling for over 40 years I can honestly say I have not been moved by a country or its people so much as my visit to Vanuatu last year,” Paul said.
“Nowhere else in all my travels have I experienced such generosity from people who have such little material or obvious signs of any wealth that give so much of themselves.
“They were always willing to give us fresh fruit and vegetables, catch fresh lobster, fish and crabs from their surrounds.
“Naturally we became traders with them which is half the fun of visiting theses remote communities and you begin to feel like Captain Cook as some of these villages will not see a visiting yacht or white man in a year.”
Since the cyclone hit, Paul has watched the tragic outcomes and its impact on the islands and people of Vanuatu. He has pledged to donate $5000 to the CARE Australia Cyclone Pam relief fund and asks others to do the same.
“Many of the wonderful ‘Ni Vans’ (Ni-Vanuatu) we met have lost their homes and villages – which were made predominantly of bamboo poles and fronds. Unlike Australian cyclone-affected areas, the Vanuatu people live a very basic earth to mouth existence.
“I am particularly keen to assist the villages we visited in Erromango and Tanna. Many of these villages have been blown away and whilst Dillon’s Bay has reported no fatalities, we are unsure of Port Narvin and the other villages on Erromango and Tanna. Port Resolution in Tanna is where many cruising yachties first arrive in Vanuatu after sailing from Europe, French Polynesia, Tonga and Fiji.
“I appeal to you to consider how lucky we are to be living in a first world country and what we take for granted the peoples of Vanuatu may never have. Please join me and Seashells Hospitality Group in donating to help the people of Vanuatu get their lives back together.
“If you’re a traveller, a lover of life, and an open hearted person with a reasonable income and lifestyle I ask you to join me and Seashells Hospitality Group to donate to help the people of Vanuatu get their lives and wonderful group of islands back together. I can assure you that if you haven’t visited Vanuatu yet I suggest that you do and appreciate what a truly tropical island peoples and country is still like!”
CARE Australia has been working extensively in Tanna and Erromango Islands both pre and post Cyclone Pam and they have created an emergency relief fund for these hardest hit areas. We have a donation page set up specifically for this appeal – and you can find it here.
If you would like to contact Paul to find out more, please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org .
A snapshot of Seashells MD Paul King’s experience in Vanuatu.