Lawrence’s story

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Lawrence’s story

Lawrence and his family are one of the thousands whose homes were destroyed by Cyclone Pam when it made landfall on March 13. This is their story…

As Tropical Cyclone Pam tore through Vanuatu in the middle of the night, Lawrence, a 71-year-old grandfather huddled inside his home with his family.

When the raging winds, gusting at 320km/h, tore off part of their roof they desperately sought shelter under some debris. Lawrence’s wife became trapped when roofing fell on her and he sustained deep cuts while trying to free her from the metal sheeting.

“When the roof flew off, we tried to move. The wind was so strong we didn’t hear the big tree falling. The roof, the walls, everything collapsed on us. There was nowhere to go. I was thinking, ‘how am I going to be saved? A huge tree fell on my house. I’m supposed to die’.”

After huddling together throughout the long night, when the storm began to subside Lawrence and his family climbed out of what was left of their home – little more than a pile of rubble.

Despite the terrifying experience, Lawrence is grateful that he and his family survived. He is eager to begin rebuilding their home. Like many of his neighbours, he has the skills needed but not the tools or materials.

“I’ve lived here since 2005,” Lawrence says. “I want to stay here in the village. We just need some timber, corrugated iron roofing… and a chainsaw.”

Lawrence recounted his frightening experience to Geno Teofilo, a Habitat for Humanity aid worker who is in Vanuatu assessing the damage. Geno is part of a team surveying some of the worst hit areas and coordinating immediate shelter assistance.

Cyclone Pam is the worst natural disaster to hit Vanuatu. And sadly Lawrence’s story is all too familiar across the country.

14,000 homes have been destroyed, leaving 65,000 people in need of emergency shelter. On some islands up to 90% of homes, schools and other buildings have been destroyed or are severely damaged. Thousands of families face having to completely rebuild their homes, and their lives.

Donate today and help provide initial temporary shelter options and building materials and tools to help people like Lawrence rebuild.

Comments (4)

  1. Dr Kevin B. ORR
    Dr Kevin B. ORR
    5 years ago

    I would like to provide medical and physical support but I am afraid I am crippled with total spinal disease and right heart failure. So all I can do is donate.

    • Habitat for Humanity Australia
      Habitat for Humanity Australia
      5 years ago

      Hi Robert,
      Sorry to hear about your condition. Thank you for your support. Your donation makes a huge difference in the lives of people who have lost so much.

      Wishing you the best.
      The Habitat team

  2. Robert Nieuwenhuis
    Robert Nieuwenhuis
    5 years ago

    Hi, my wife & I are planning a trip to Vanuatu some time later this year and a keen to see if there is anything we could do in the way of assisting (be part of a build, etc).
    Keen to hear from you.

    Cheers, Robert

    • Habitat for Humanity Australia
      Habitat for Humanity Australia
      5 years ago

      Hi Robert,
      Thank you for your comment. Habitat for Humanity are assisting by providing emergency shelter repair kits and longer term shelter options. At this stage we don’t have any volunteering opportunities available in Vanuatu, but will let you know if anything arises in future.

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