Vanuatu Red Cross Society with the support of Australian Red Cross hosted an award ceremony this evening to recognize individuals who made an outstanding contribution towards Vanuatu Red Cross Society’s Cyclone Pam emergency response. Those honoured included members of their board and staff as well as humanitarians from a range of organisations both nationally and internationally. The evening also coincided with the launch of Vanuatu Red Cross Society’s Tropical Cyclone Pam 6-month Progress Report, its production also supported by Australian Red Cross Society. The report outlines all the work that Vanuatu Red Cross Society has done to help Vanuatu recover since Cyclone Pam.
Vanuatu’s first elected president and current Vanuatu Red Cross Society president Mr Ati George Sokomanu made the opening address of the evening and proceeded to present award recipients with their medals and certificates. During his address he recalled the period after Cyclone Pam made landfall, saying “everyone came to help the people of Vanuatu, including NGOs, NDMO and others, but it was Red Cross, who stood on it’s own and did what they had to do to help the people out”. Sokomanu also received an award for his long-term service to Vanuatu Red Cross as one of their longest standing volunteers. This was presented by Vanuatu Red Cross Society vice-president, Monica Croccolo de Gaillande. Jacqueline de Gaillande, CEO of Vanuatu Red Cross Society and award recipients, also attended. Those receiving awards included members of Vanuatu Red Cross Society board, staff and volunteers, former Vanuatu Red Cross Society president, Hannington Alatoa, delegates from IFRC, Delegates from Australian, French, New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga and Japan Red Cross Societies as well as representatives from DTNC Noumea, Oxfam, CARE International, World Vision, the Government of Vanuatu and NDMO.
Vanuatu Red Cross Society’s response reached 30,000 people affected by the cyclone within the first month. These medals acknowledge the hard work and commitment of these individuals to the collective effort to assist the people of Vanuatu following the devastation wrought by Tropical Cyclone Pam. Vanuatu Red Cross Society’s mission is to improve the lives of Vanuatu’s most vulnerable communities without discrimination. The evening helped to reinforce this mandate and further inspire the provision of humanitarian support to the suffering, especially to those affected by the events of Tropical Cyclone Pam in March.