Friday, 12 August 2016

Vanuatu Disaster Chaplaincy Network

Written by Rev Dr Stephen Robinson

I have just completed three days of training in Port Vila, Vanuatu with a group from our partner church, the Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu (PCV) and the national Anglican, Churches of Christ and Assemblies of God.

This is the third time I have been in the country through UnitingWorld since Tropical Cyclone Pam struck the nation in March 2015.

My first visit was to encourage and advise the leadership in recovery processes directly after the cyclone; the second to run a workshop supporting pastors deeply affected by their work.

This workshop was to assist the creation of a national disaster recovery chaplaincy network for Vanuatu.

There were 60 participants, 40 men and 20 women.

There was a strong emphasis on the importance of carrying this forward and connecting with Vanuatu's National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) and other agencies to see this work continued.

Many of the workshop’s participants were trainers and educators, along with pastors and elders, and those present are confident that they can create a cohesive ecumenical network of chaplains to be trained and ready to respond to recovery needs in future disasters.

This work follows on from the lessons of assisting in this way in Tonga, Tuvalu and Fiji – work which was pioneered in NSW.  

Vanuatu is rated as one of the most disaster-prone nations on earth, and it has been a great blessing to me to see the churches’ move to work in the recovery space so enthusiastically.