On Friday 13th March 2015, Tropical Cyclone Pam, a Category 5 cyclone, tore through the Pacific causing widespread destruction in Vanuatu. At 6.15pm on Saturday 14th March winds up to 340km/hour hit Tanna Island.

The library on Tanna Island, built by Jump Start Foundation (JSF) in partnership with the Isangel Central Primary School (ICPS) community had its roof and shutters torn off, windows shattered, 95% of the newly purchased library books and teaching resources destroyed, school supplies such as exercise books and stationery unusable, and their brand new dictionaries ruined. The Year Five and Six classroom building was obliterated down to the concrete slab. Not to mention the destruction of villages, all of their food supply, water tanks, livestock and roads.

As soon as possible after Cyclone Pam JSF founder, Heidi Dening, travelled to Tanna Island. Heidi was able to assure the ICPS community that JSF was working hard on their behalf to assist them, and she was able to help the school get back up and running while she was there. In fact, they were the first school on Tanna to do so, which you can read about here in The Vanuatu Daily Post.

JSF has considered the logistical and financial capacity of our fully volunteer organisation in prioritising a list of ways we can help the ICPS community get back on their feet after this devastating cyclone. We are able to do this while staying true to JSF objectives of using local materials, resources, skills and businesses from Tanna Island and Vanuatu as much as possible.

Jump Start Foundation’s Top 5 Priorities:

  • School Lunches – We provided 210 students and 10 staff for daily school lunches until Tanna's crops could be harvested. It was logistically VERY difficult, but we have did it! Yah! School lunches enabled ICPS children to be more alert and receptive during class time. School lunches also relieve some of the burden on families to provide lunch from their very small stocks of food.

  • Fresh, Safe Water – Surrounding villages have been dependent on the one water tank still functioning at ICPS, plus the water purification kits donated by JSF. Northbridge Rotary and JSF are supplying four more to the ICPS communities. The tanks left Sydney on Friday 6th June for their journey to Tanna Island.

  • Building Works – There are a lot of necessary building and repair works needed at the school to ensure students have appropriate and safe places to learn. Donated funds from Governments and Aid Agencies have not yet been released for the ‘National Rebuild of Education’, so JSF is taking action. Tanna Rotarians are helping us with this plan. JSF has paid for all the essential building materials and will also pay local parents/trades-people to help so we can inject dollars into the community. Rotary will lead the project with an experienced builder and JSF will assist with the physical rebuild during the volunteer trip in August. Rotary will then finish this project later in the year. The priority is to finish the Library and completely rebuild Year 5 and 6 classrooms.

  • Electrical Safety – JSF has funded two local Port Vila electricians to travel to Tanna to assess the required electrical work at ICPS. They will return when we are rebuilding the classrooms to ensure a safe electrical environment. They were shocked at how unsafe the school was and that there had been no accidents to date.

  • School stationary, library books and teacher resources – JSF is returning to our Literacy Improvement Program as soon as possible starting with restocking the library and stationary supplies destroyed by Cyclone Pam. We are currently ordering supplies and plan to have them ready for volunteer trip in August. While food, emergency supplies and shelter are vital; education is also important post a natural disaster such as Cyclone Pam.

Education provides:

  • Hope – education gives hope for the future by providing order, structure and a sense of normalcy. Education can help to mitigate the psychosocial effects of disaster and displacement. Structured play activities and schooling have been shown to ease the shock and trauma for children who have lived through the destruction of natural disasters and the loss of loved ones and homes. Source: Unesco.org
  • Healing - Books and educational opportunities for disaster victims are essential to healing; rebuilding society and recapturing lost humanity.
  • Solace - books and storytelling activities can bring solace and intellectual stimulation, even in the most harrowing of circumstances. They give hope to disaster victims by helping them envision a future after the rubble is cleared and houses are rebuilt. Source: Libraries Without Borders.
  • Nourishment - Amid humanitarian crises, international organizations must provide nourishment not only for the body, but also for the mind. Source: Libraries Without Borders.

JSF remains committed to using 100% of your donated money to help the ICPS school community get back on their feet. By continually prioritising our activities as conditions on Tanna Island change, we can ensure the best path to recovery for the ICPS community. We are fundraising specifically to provide help and support for their community, their school, their library, their resources, and their futures. You can help us in the following ways:

Jump Start Foundation: Providing Life Changing Opportunities Through Education.
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