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Rebuild Eden on the River after cyclone Pam
$33,514 raised
49% of $69.1k goal
45 contributors
4 Years running

Rebuild community embedded tourism and farm project in Vanuatu after cyclone Pam

On Friday 13th of March, Vanuatu was hit by cyclone Pam, one of the strongest cyclones ever recorded in the southern hemisphere. Much of the rural population has lost their homes. The Eden on the River property has been severely damaged to the point where the rebuilding efforts and the loss of business threaten the survival of our project; a project that is deeply rooted within the surrounding community and therefore is not only vital to us but also our local employees and their families.

 

What is Eden on the river?

Eden on the river consists of two components, located in the community of Rentapao, 30 minutes outside of the capital Port Vila. Since 2010 the tourism division has developed five different ecological and cultural tours (garden, river, bridge, eco and farm park tours) and has just won the Westpac Vanuatu Tourism Award of Excellence (in the category Cultural/Eco tour) a mere week before cyclone Pam. 2014 saw the opening of our Eden Tea House providing drinks and lunch items.

The second component, Yo Ku Farm, is a small commercial farm that currently operates a 35 sow free-range piggery. The aim of this operation is to breed a line of pigs that is suitable for the tropical environment, using mostly local produce as feed. Yo Ku Farm also works with local farmers in order to improve their small herd management skills. Excess stock is sold to Ni-Vanuatu families to support the local economy and traditions, as well as improving the village herds.

Eden on the River operates in a rural environment and we deliberately try to employ people who live in the surrounding area.We only hire Ni-vanuatu staff and strongly encourage the hiring of family members.

We employ eight full time staff, 14 contract tour guides, a contract bus driver, a contract builder and often, temporary workers for special projects. Training and education are a priority, enabling the staff to mature and grow, improving their skills while still fulfilling their own family obligations. About 70% of our staff are women and 80% have had no previous employment. Several of our staff were illiterate before joining our team, part of our core training program is ensuring basic literacy. Each of them is encouraged to get involved in the part of our business that most interests them. To this end several are receiving in-house training in office skills and are involved in the daily running of the office, while others have chosen to become more involved with the daily running of the café. Suggestions for improvements are actively sought and encouraged.

Nearly all our female employees are mothers and most of them find it impossible to work full time; however, they are able to make a real contribution to their family finances by working 1-4 days a week. They bring to their tour guide positions a caring attitude that is impossible to teach, and their special personalities are seen reflected in the many comments on trip advisor and personal comments to us from clients. Our success as a new business can be directly attributed to these women.

 

Why we need your help?

Cyclone Pam severely damaged our office and the cafe, most of the animal enclosures in the farm park and the piggery. Fences throughout the entire property have been flattened by falling trees. The suspension bridges for our bridge tour are luckily mostly intact. However, one of them sustained major damage. About 20% of our garden and forest, the heart of all our tours, has been destroyed permanently; the remaining 80% will hopefully grow back in the next 6-12 months. Staff housing and the workshop have also suffered major damage. Since the cyclone we have had ten additional workers on average every day to assist with clearing debris.

We are committed to rebuilding Eden on the River because it is our life and the livelihood for our 24 permanent staff, the many project workers and their families. One of our commitments during our 40 years in Vanuatu has been improving the livelihood of the community we belong to. We are involved in local tourism, commerce and livestock organisations which is why we are able to anticipate the need for pig donations to small holdings farmers. Vanuatu will experience enormous food production pressure in the coming months. Many of the farms and gardens have been destroyed and this leaves a huge food deficit the government and aid agencies are struggle to fill. The local staple diet of root crops is the same as the feed used for pigs. Many pig farmers will be forced to sell or eat their pigs, which is the standing recommendation of animal welfare organisations as food and water security has been threatened. That also means that we will have to import pig feed which results in higher feed prices. Donations will be used to provide small holders with free pigs to replenish their livestock and strengthen genetic diversity once the situation has improved.

One of our strong beliefs is in education. The community in Rentapao does not have a kindergarten and discussions with staff revealed this as a primary need. Donations received in excess of our rebuilding needs will go towards building a kindergarten on our property open to the children in our community.

At the moment we don’t generate any income because we are still dealing with the aftermath and there are hardly any tourists in Vanuatu. We are hoping to resume business as usual within the next few weeks but this depends on us being able to rebuild. This is why we need your help!

 

How can you help?

We need:

  • You to share our message with as many people as possible
  • 46,500 AUD to rebuild the structures that have been lost: café, office, animal shelters, workshop, staff housing for 4 staff with their families
  • 15,000 AUD to be able to donate 50 pigs to farmers who have lost their livestock due to Pam:
  • 7,600 AUD to build a kindergarten for the children in our community
  • Any money raised over our goal will be used to cover school fees for the children of our staff members and their families

If you have questions or would like to have additional information about Eden on the River you are more than welcome to contact Carolyn via email (ernst@vanuatu.com), facebook (Eden on the river) or telephone (+678 774 888 0). You can find Eden´s history and the most recent development on our Facebook page or website.

What Eden on the River means to our staff

Collete, Office manager since 2012Collete, office manager since 2012

Eden helps me a lot with my financial needs like school fees for my son and little sister, building a house with my husband and supporting my parents. I really like working here because I have learned many different things like how to use a computer and accounting program, how to run an office, first aid and life saving courses.

 

Florina, tour guide since 2014Florina with her son Jefferson

This is my first job ever and I have been able to improve my English, my French, my office skills and get work experience. I have a little son and as a tour guide I have flexible work and still find time to go to university and look after my son. Through my job I earn money that I can use to pay for bus fares, go to the hospital and pay for my son.

 

Jacklyn, tour guide since 2014Jacklyn with daughter Pamela

My job at Eden on the River helps me pay for my daughter’s school fees, our house, food and kitchen supplies. The job is flexible and that gives me time for my daughter and time to look after my garden. I like working at Eden because I could improve my English and meet different people.

 

Nellie, housekeeper and training for cafe kitchen since 2015Nellie

Not all of us went to school for a long time so Eden is the place where we learn English and are trained to be an educated person and have a real job.

 

Leserei, Cafe staff and tour guide since 2013Leserei in the kitchen

This job is important to me because I have a family and I can pay school fees for my kids. In Vanuatu, the education standard is not very high and the school is expensive. I can also help my family if they need something because not all of them have jobs. I like working at Eden because I meet new people, I can socialize with other people and have fun with my colleagues.

 

More photos from Eden before the cyclone:

Our staff in the riverOur staff in the river

Activity highlights See all45
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Perks

$100 AUD
Donor's wall
  • 9 claimed
Get your name on our donor's wall in the office area where all our visitors are welcomed.
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$300 AUD
Sponsor a pig
  • 7 claimed
We will donate the pig you sponsor to a farmer in the cyclone affected areas who wants to replenish his or her stock. This will be coordinated with the Department of Livestock in Vanuatu. You will receive an email containing information about the farmer and, where possible, a picture of farmer and pig.
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$500 AUD
Life time access pass to Eden on the River
  • 2 claimed
This will give you and your family the opportunity to enjoy all the tours that Eden on the River has to offer as many times as you like. This includes your picture on our donor's wall and a mention on our website
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$1,000 AUD
Sponsor an animal enclosure
  • 3 claimed
  • 12 remaining
You will receive a plaque on the animal enclosure you sponsor as well as a photo of the enclosure and its inhabitants once it has been reconstructed. This also includes a mention on our donor's wall, the website and a life time access pass to Eden on the River.
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$5,000 AUD
Sponsor a building
  • 0 claimed
  • 4 remaining
The building you sponsor will be named after you. This also includes a mention on our donor's wall, the website and a life time access pass to Eden on the River.
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