The P&O Pacific Partnership today announced a $50,000 special contribution to Save the Children Australia to support their emergency efforts as thousands of residents are forced to evacuate Ambae Island in Vanuatu following the eruption of the Manaro Voui volcano.
The contribution will be used to support three evacuation centres on neighbouring islands, for water purification units and for personal hygiene kits for women and children.
P&O Cruises Australia President Sture Myrmell approved the special contribution from the P&O Pacific Partnership within an hour of Save the Children calling for support of their evacuation activities.
The evacuation of Ambae’s entire population has been dubbed Vanuatu’s ‘Little Dunkirk’ as boats and light planes have been used to transport residents to evacuation centres in a constant shuttle in recent days.
“The people of Vanuatu are very close to our hearts as well as to our guests and I know that our guests will welcome news of this special contribution to assist the people of Ambae in this emergency situation,” Mr Myrmell said.
Ambae is midway between Port Vila and Luganville and cruise ships pass by the island, usually at night, when sailing to or from the two Vanuatu population centres. The island’s volcano is the fabled ‘Bali Hai’ made famous in the movie South Pacific, based on James A Michener’s epic bestselling novel, ‘Tales of the South Pacific’.
Michener was based at Vanuatu with US forces during World War Two and could see Manaro Voui from Espiritu Santo. But Ambae is currently far from being the fictional Bali Hai. It is instead at the centre of a state of emergency as the volcano began to erupt several days ago sending rocks, ash and sulphur gas soaring into the air.
“The whole island of Ambae is being evacuated and Save the Children is on the ground supporting the safe evacuation of men, women and children to neighbouring Islands,” said Save the Children’s Vanuatu Country Director, Georgia Tacey.
With help from the P&O Pacific Partnership, Save the Children is providing sanitation and hygiene facilities to help prevent the spread of disease and providing dignity kits for women and children including personal hygiene products, underwear, nappies, soap, sarongs and solar torches for safety.
The P&O Pacific Partnership is funded by a voluntary one dollar contribution by guests for each P&O cruise booking. Since its introduction, the Partnership has raised more than $1 million to improve early education for children in Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands as well as providing essential health care and maternity services for remote families in Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea.