Generosity could pay off

All donations above $25 made to the Equip Vanuatu Charitable Trust by December 20 go into the draw to win a place on one of four volunteer trips in 2016, covering airfares and fees, to help in the urban community of Ohlen Mataso, just outside of Port Vila

But for Tauranga philanthropist teenager Courtney Tilby, from the Equip Vanuatu Charitable Trust, the side effects of that devastating natural disaster are not what brings a tear to her eye.

“It’s the day-to-day issues the people deal with; issues and resolutions we take for granted, that are heart-breaking,” says the 19-year-old trainee teacher, who made headlines earlier in the year when she went missing for several days after the cyclone hit.

“There is a lack of knowledge around simple preventative first aid, such as washing hands after going to the toilet, brushing your teeth properly, and how to clean, and keep clean, wounds.”

“It gets to a point where it’s really, really horrible, dangerous, and sickly, but it could have been prevented,” says Courtney.

She recalls a little boy who had a gash on his leg from iron blown off a building during Cyclone Pam. “It had never been cleaned properly and because it was infected it was itchy, so he was scratching it with a stick and opening it up over and over again.”

Another case was even more emotionally draining for Courtney. “There was a little girl with such a bad infestation of lice she had big open septic wounds all over her head.

“We asked the Mum if I could take her to the hospital, because she needed more help that I could give her out of my first aid kit.”

There was a bit of toing and froing but eventually the mother agreed.

“I was paying for the bill, which was the equivalent of about NZ$5, and the Mum started sobbing.

“I thought we had missed something, but it was just that she was the first child in that community to ever be able to go to hospital.

“The $5 dollars and the $3 bus fare, was an amount of money so far beyond their means they couldn’t contemplate it.”

Courtney is organising four volunteer trips for 2016 - on January 2-10, April 23-May 1, July 9-17 and October 1-9.

She’s aware some people cannot afford the cost of joining a volunteer trip, so the Trust is giving away one place on one of this year’s trips (airfares and volunteer fee included, trip subject to availability.

To enter, simply make a donation of $25 or more by December 20 into the Equip Vanuatu Charitable Trust account 06-0491-0200698-00 and use your name and phone number as a reference.

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