Port Vila, 25 September 2018 — for the first time as part of its disaster response, Vanuatu Red Cross Society-VRCS- has implemented a “Phone credit transfer” program targeting families from Ambae who have moved to Maewo and Santo as a result of the ongoing volcanic eruption.
In the month of July 2018, during its distributions of non-food items on Ambae prior to the mass evacuation, the VRCS team collected phone numbers of several households.
The purpose of this program is to provide phone cards or direct top up valued at 1000 vatu for each household to stay connected with their families during this time of disaster. Families had the option to receive the 1000vt credit to one phone or to split between two phones - for example, 500vt for the father and 500vt for the mother.
Phone credit cards were provided to 600 households over the past week - 200 cards distributed to households in Maewo and 400 cards in Santo. An additional 700 households received phone credit via electronic transfer.
Last week, the Coordinator of the Phone Credit transfer program, Lindah Peter, led a team of Sanma Branch Red Cross Volunteers to visit Ambae families around Luganville and in rural areas from East to south of Santo.
Mathew Toka from Saralokambu village on West Ambae was very happy to receive this free credit on his phone.
It is a great initiative and I am so happy to be one of the recipients. Thank you Vanuatu Red Cross Society – VRCS and International Federation of Red Cross, IFRC. For me, receiving credits without paying for it, it is a blessing to me, because talking to one of my family member in such time of disaster, helps me to share my distress, to receive moral encouragement, also to ask for help when needed. My advice is for you (VRCS and IFRC) is to maintain this program; it is so helpful to us. And thank you Vanuatu Red Cross for the tool kit you have distributed to us.”