A Warm Welcome for the Rainbow Warrior in Vanuatu

19 May 2015

This morning I woke up in a house on the Pango peninsula, the entrance of Vanuatu’s capital, Port Vila, under a giant, complete and vivid rainbow.

Somehow the sky knew we were here, and that the Rainbow Warrior had arrived into the harbour quietly during the night.

The clouds decided to frame the island city with colours at dawn, while the ship rocked peacefully just off shore.

By 7:30am I was receiving text messages from friends on all sides of town – “I can see it!”, “It’s here!”

6 hours later, I am writing from on board the Rainbow Warrior, docked at the main wharf of Port Vila. She berthed at 9 o’clock this morning.

The faces of the crew now mirror this morning’s sky and the side of the bow, as they are painted with stripes of neon colours, courtesy of our traditional welcome and dance on the dock.

The crew are very happy to be here. Vanuatu is happy to have us.

The Rainbow Warrior arrives in Port Vila, Vanuatu.
The Rainbow Warrior arrives in Port Vila, Vanuatu. Copyright Steven Lyon/Greenpeace.

Delivering relief: why we’re here

Along with our friends from ActionAid, the Greenpeace Rainbow Warrior is in Vanuatu for three weeks working with the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) and the Vanuatu Government to help deliver relief to the nation’s outlying islands.

Unfortunately, many of which are still stranded without electricity or basic living essentials.

Thousands of people are still in dire need of emergency shelter and goods, even two months after Cyclone Pam battered the island nation.

The Rainbow Warrior brought tools, solar torches, clothing, kitchen utensils, stationery and books on board the crossing.

Everything is in two containers (currently wrapped with banners of love, hope and strength from Australian families and children) sitting on the stern of the ship.

We are offloading some things here in Port Vila and picking up more government supplies, including much-needed food and shelter items.

Tomorrow we set off to Tanna, our first island call of duty! Then we will return to restock.

Moving donations 18-5-2015 (2)

Unloading donated relief goods for the people affected by Cyclone Pam. Copyright Steven Lyon/Greenpeace.

You can’t sink a rainbow

Vanuatu is amazing. A true paradise filled with strong smiles and pride. It is such a pleasure to be here meeting, talking with and helping such a wonderful people.

As a Pacific islander, it overwhelms my little ukelele heart, to see the beauty of intrinsic happiness shining through even the darkest of storms and catastrophes.

In my one week of being in Port Vila, I have seen roofless homes filled with music, displaced people filled with endless generosity. I spent my first few nights here in a room belonging to a man who had given up his house to a house-less family, and his replacement space, to me.

I hope all that we distribute from the decks of the Rainbow Warrior delivers a little light and hope for the people of Vanuatu.

Greenpeace stands firmly in solidarity with Ni-Vanuatu and everyone around the world affected by climate change.

We will continue searching for ways to challenge the failing global governance of the fossil fuel era. We will listen to those who have been affected and we will spread their message.

I was reminded at sunrise as I stared at the multicoloured sky, of something I heard our Captain say a few weeks back.

“You can’t sink a rainbow.”

Perhaps you can’t keep a Pacific Islander from smiling either.

And that is something to be treasured, not tested.

No word of a lie, I have just overheard my wonderful teammate Sally, down the hallway of the cabins say – “We are ready to open the containers!” – which means it is time to switch my flip-flops for steel cap boots and get to work!

Tanku Tumas!

Port Vila arrival welcoming by Vanuatu 18-5-2015 (2)

A warm and colourful welcome from the people of Vanuatu. Copyright Steven Lyon/Greenpeace.

Port Vila arrival welcoming by Vanuatu 18-5-2015 (5)

Welcoming the Rainbow Warrior to Vanuatu. Copyright Steven Lyon/Greenpeace.

Port Vila arrival welcoming by Vanuatu 18-5-2015 (3)

The crew of the Rainbow Warrior very happy to meet the wonderful people of Vanuatu. Copyright Steven Lyon/Greenpeace.

ActionAid and Greenpeace go to Vanuatu

One of the three solidarity boards that were painted by ActionAid and Greenpeace supporters ahead of the voyage. Image via ActionAid on Facebook