Teacher helps in Vanuatu relief efforts

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A 29-year-old man from Halifax has experienced five days of “living below the poverty line” as part of his fundraising efforts for Vanuatu after a cyclone ripped through the country three weeks ago.

Craig McGowan, who spent six months as a voluntary teacher on Pentecost island in 2008, was part of a group of seven people that at the beginning of last week challenged themselves to survive on just £1 a day in an attempt to raise money and awareness.

Named Cyclone Pam, it is described as the worst storm to hit the region on record, with 16 confirmed deaths across the country and thousands left homeless.

Craig, along with others from across the UK who previously volunteered on the island, have raised more than £1,600 for Australian Red Cross, one of the aid agencies taking part in the relief mission.

“I’ve got friends and an adopted family over there and they’re a fantastic, positive and welcoming group of people,” said Craig, who works as a secondary teacher in Greater Manchester.

“The response to the fundraising efforts has been great so far. People are really showing support for what we are doing.

“I managed to speak to one of my friends in Pentecost, I think it was a couple of weeks ago, and he said all the crops have been flattened.

“As far as I know the houses are OK in Pentecost, but my friend over there thinks the crops will last about a week so they’re really going to be reliant on foreign aid, and that’s why we’re doing this.”

Craig, who is engaged, is extremely appreciative of everyone who has donated; adding any kind of contribution is welcomed.

To get involved and support the relief efforts, donations can be made at https://www.justgiving.com/cyclone-pam-vanuatu.