Tropical Cyclone Pam hit the island of Vanatu on March 13. This natural disaster affected the 83 islands that makeup the South Pacific archipelago. It was considered the most powerful storm to have ever hit the Pacific region, affecting almost 125,000 people, half of the archipelago’s population. Survivors are now trying to rebuild what was damaged or lost. Apart from food water and clothes, Vanatu cyclone survivors ask for books.
It seems books can help catastrophe survivors go on with their lives. The same request for reading material was made by Haiti residents after the 2010 earthquake, apart from shelter, food and clothing.
The cyclone destroyed everything in its path: hospitals, homes, stores, libraries and the central school in Port Vila, the capital of Vanatu. The school had its roof blown off during the cyclone. This resulted in many books being permanently damaged. The school sent various requests as it is in desperate need of new manuals.
Paul Alexander Hetyey, the school’s headmaster is planning to reopen the school as soon as possible and has been collecting books and fixing what’s left of the building. Volunteers, together with the school’s teachers and librarians managed to save some of the books, cleaned them as much as they could and laid them in the sun to dry. But that is not enough.
As there are many book warehouses worldwide, the headmaster sent a plead to all organizations to send books to the island. His appeal was:
“There are a lot of book warehouses out there. Well, we need good books, good encyclopedias, reference books, all subjects, reading books from kindergarten right up to year 13 young adult books.”
A recent literary-humanitarian project was aimed at making people all over the world understand that in the case of such disasters “reading and writing are essential to healing and reconstruction”.
A petition was drawn, stating that books are one of the most important parts of emergency relief efforts after such calamities as Hurricane Katrina, the earthquake that hit Haiti, the Indian Ocean tsunami or the recent Pam Cyclone.
No one can underestimate the need for food, shelter and clothes during such disasters but victims also need a way to escape from the situation they’re in because a healthy mind is just as important as a healthy body.
Image Source: International Business Times