Australian Army tradesmen have left a lasting and positive impact on the Vanuatu Police Force (VPF) and a school ravaged by Cyclone Pam.

During Exercise Vanuatu Alliance, the 2nd Combat Engineer Regiment (2CER) did repairs and held construction workshops with apprentice VPF tradespeople at Akama Centre School. They fixed plumbing, water taps and parts of the playground that were destroyed by Cyclone Pam in 2015.

Children and teachers from Akama Centre School with Australian Army engineers and Vanuatu Police Force members with the new swing set built during Exercise Vanuatu Alliance 2019 on Epi Island. Photo: Leading Seaman Kieren Whiteley

Humanitarian and disaster relief was the focus of the exercise, where the ADF and the VPF exchanged knowledge on how to best react when natural disasters occur.

Since Cyclone Pam, teachers from Akama Centre School had been forced to carry buckets of water uphill for the children to stay clean.

The Akama Centre School Principal, Lucy Kalo, was delighted with the combined efforts of ADF and VPF.

“The students need to wash their hands after using the toilet and before they eat, so I asked if they could put in two or three taps, and that is done, so I’m very happy about that,” Principal Kalo said.

“To those who have come to my school to install the taps, I would like to say thank you.”

Donel Alick from the VPF will soon start a carpentry apprenticeship and was grateful for the chance to engage in the construction workshops with the 2CER tradesmen.

“Working with the Australians has been fun, and it’s also good because they’re helping us get to know more about trades like plumbing and carpentry,” Mr Alick said.

“We’re still learning, not many of us went to school to learn carpentry or plumbing, so working with them is a great opportunity to learn new things.”