When Mark Wolf (CEO EMALTE) arrived in Vanuatu, South Pacific Islands, for a few meetings with the Department of Water Resources, he was not surprised to see the devastation caused by two successive cyclones which battered the island nation three weeks prior. Fortunately, there were no lives lost, however, the widespread damage and flooding were a heartbreaking sight. Uprooted trees, flooded roads, roofs torn off homes and businesses were a common scene as we drove to our accommodation. Staff later related that they had lost sections of their homes and were anxiously awaiting repairs.
We felt a strong need to do something besides injecting money back into the economy through spending – but what? With no tools and no transport, we started to ask around. Something we could do directly for the village residents resonated with us. Our local transport driver and guide, Lawrence, gave us an idea. He suggested buying food for a local village, which we thought was an ideal solution. Lawrence drove us to a food wholesale outlet to buy boxes of breakfast food. EMALTE staff expected to deliver the boxes, meet some of the locals and then depart. What we were unprepared for was an eloquent speech of gratitude presented to us by a village official Florence, who, as it turned out, was also the secretary for the Minister of Climate Change. Florence said it was meant to be as she would normally be at work that day but stayed home to help in the village clean-up. After exchanging business cards, Mark and Florence discussed the possibility of a future meeting with the Minister so that EMALTE can gain a better understanding of real and potential environmental threats to the island nation.