Operation Lola: Strengthening Resilience in Vanuatu's Schools

News image

Posted by Laura Butlin 05th March 2024 News

Estimated Reading Time: 2 mins

In a focused two-week deployment, REACTs Taryn Anderson joined forces with Taskforce Kiwi (TFK) and Disaster Relief Australia (DRA) for Operation Lola in Malekula, Vanuatu, from February 3rd to 17th, 2024. This mission underscored our commitment to enhancing educational infrastructure resilience against severe weather events, notably the recent Cyclone Lola.

Operation Lola centred around conducting thorough damage assessments at 41 priority schools, a task undertaken in close partnership with the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET). This initiative was not just about immediate repairs but aimed at longer-term solutions for cyclone-proof educational facilities across Vanuatu.

The deployment offered an invaluable opportunity to witness the resilience of Vanuatu's communities firsthand. Despite the devastation caused by Cyclone Lola, many schools had already made significant repairs, showcasing the indomitable spirit of these communities to secure education against the odds.

A key highlight of this operation was the exposure to innovative drone capability and damage assessment methodologies employed by TFK. This experience enhanced our operational capabilities and fostered an environment of shared learning and collaboration with TFK and DRA. Integrating drone technology and advanced assessment tools played a crucial role in navigating the challenges posed by the island's limited accessibility.

Taryn REACT TFK Taskforce Kiwi Vanuatu 06.jpeg

Many of the schools are only accessible by boat

Operation Lola was a testament to the power of collaboration in the face of disaster. Working alongside the skilled New Zealand and Australia teams, we were inspired by the shared commitment to supporting the most vulnerable and difficult-to-reach communities. This mission provided a profound insight into the potential for technological innovation and international cooperation to build a more resilient future for the children of Vanuatu.

As we reflect on the accomplishments of Operation Lola, we are reminded of the critical importance of our mission. The resilience observed in the communities of Malekula fuels our determination to continue supporting disaster-affected regions. The lessons learned and the friendships forged during this operation will undoubtedly inform and enhance our future endeavours.

The success of Operation Lola is a clear indicator of the impact that can be achieved through partnership, innovation, and a shared commitment to humanitarian action. As we move forward, the need for continued support and collaboration remains paramount. We invite our community and potential partners to join us in our mission to provide resilient, safe, and accessible education facilities for every child, regardless of where they live.

We sincerely thank Air Link Flight and Fly Air Vanuatu for their crucial support in facilitating our volunteer deployment to Malekula. Their commitment to our cause significantly contributed to the success of Operation Lola, marking another milestone in our journey towards a more resilient world.

Your support enables us to continue our vital work in places like Vanuatu, where the need is greatest but often overlooked. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of those who face the aftermath of disasters with courage and hope. Join us in this mission by donating today.