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Hundreds of Kiwi Quilts are Delivered to Vanuatu

Hundreds of Kiwi Quilts are Delivered to Vanuatu during Cruise Call to Port Vila

Kiwi quilter Caroline Mason has delivered more than 700 quilts to Vanuatu villagers during a cruise call to Port Vila.

The Matamata resident, who was behind a nationwide quilt drive, joined P&O Cruises’ 10-night cruise to New Caledonia and Vanuatu to personally deliver 741 quilts handcrafted by New Zealanders for the people of Vanuatu in the wake of Cyclone Pam.

As well as the quilts, the Pacific Pearl cruise doubled as a humanitarian aid mission with the equivalent of four full shipping containers worth of vital supplies being loaded onto the ship in Auckland.

Ms Mason met some of the Ni-Van crew onboard and presented them with colourful quilts after hearing that their family members had lost their homes in the cyclone.

During a handover at Port Vila on Anzac Day, chairman of the National Disaster Management Committee Jotham Napat told Ms Mason that most of the quilts would be sent to the colder southern islands where the devastation was greatest.

Ms Mason said she also made a visit to a cyclone-ravaged village where she handed over more quilts and was thanked with a traditional lunch of chicken, taro, rice and coconut soup. She said she was moved to tears during the emotional visit.

“As we drove there I noticed piles of tree trunks and branches which had been cut and dragged off the road, many sheets of roofing iron were being held on the roofs with sand bags. We crossed a bridge that had been damaged and reduced to a single lane. As we entered the village I saw two large UNICEF tents, initially these had been emergency housing, now they are used as a school.

Arriving at the Village of Mele, around a dozen women were awaiting our arrival. This village had been flooded and everything washed away or destroyed by mud. I gave each of the women and many of the children a quilt, and some of the little dresses. It was very moving. People were so appreciative.

One woman made a speech on behalf of the group and all the women stood to sing a hymn and say a prayer and then came forward and kissed me and said thank you. In my brief speech, I said the quilts were not only to keep their bodies warm but to warm their soul and so they know we care,” Ms Mason said.


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