Heartfelt thanks for support from community

Vanuatuan men employed at Hinton's Orchard with rice their employer donated for the relief effort...
Vanuatuan men employed at Hinton's Orchard with rice their employer donated for the relief effort in their home country: (from left) front: David Harry and Patrick Manmelin; back: Tane Kaloran, Kalteng Tasaururu, Banga Benjamin, Naison Aru, Kalo John...

Vanuatans working in Central Otago yesterday thanked the wider community and in particular their employer for support in the wake of Cyclone Pam.

The reaction from people in the region following the destructive storm has given them strength and courage during a ''very'' hard time and made them feel like part of the Central Otago ''family''.

Rita and Harry Jocy approached the Otago Daily Times yesterday with their message of thanks to the community and employer, Hinton's Orchard.

The company had given them a pallet of rice to send home to help feed those in need.

Other items had been donated and would be sent to Vanuatu in containers.

Although the containers would not arrive for a month, the items would still help.

The Jocys were looking forward to returning home next week.

Watching televised news on Wednesday, they saw their home - or where it had been.

''My house in Port Vila is gone. The people [who live nearby] are OK, but the house is gone,'' Mrs Jocy said.

They were relieved to finally learn their daughters were safe and well, she said. Waiting for the news had been hard.

Thankfully, their co-workers' families had also survived the storm.

When they got home, they would have to start again.

''We have to be positive ... we are starting a new home, a new life. Everything will be new beginnings.''

The first jobs would be helping to clean up following the cyclone, planting crops and starting to rebuild homes.

They expected they would be staying in primary schools which had been closed.

They hoped authorities in Port Vila would decide to work towards safer, permanent houses in Vanuatu, rather than temporary homes.

Despite the task ahead, Mr and Mrs Jocy were looking forward to returning to Central Otago in October.

Locals had made them feel supported and welcome, and it would provide an opportunity to make money to support the rebuild at home.


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