Nestled between deep blue tropical lagoons and coconut plantations several small villages are found along the southern highway of Efate.

It is these villages further out of Port Vila, about 45 minutes' drive, that rely on the produce they grow in their gardens for food and income - traded in the main markets in the city.

Katie Rolland sits in front of a house the community has built her, her husband and four children
Katie Rolland sits in front of a house the community has built her, her husband and four children

These markets are now deserted, left with nothing but dust and rubble after Cyclone Pam's devastating effects.

It's in one of these villages, Eton, that the second half of the New Zealand Vanuatu Rebuild team has been rebuilding a women's centre and women's toilet block in the first week of our stay.

Andrew Rolland sits on a log were his house used to be.
Andrew Rolland sits on a log were his house used to be.

The storm ripped off the roof of the Presbyterian Women's Mission Union house and walls off the toilet, leaving women in the village no privacy.

Eton village council deputy chairman Jeffery Kalorut says his village is home to about 600 people with the closest houses situated about 20m from the ocean. The small seaside settlement took the full force of Pam's 350km/h wind gusts.

One of Katie Rolland's girls plays in the debris of Cyclone Pam.
One of Katie Rolland's girls plays in the debris of Cyclone Pam.

She destroyed all 31 thatched palm and wooden homes in the village, sandy white village paths are replaced with the remains of the coral reef, jagged and sharp.

Pieces of people's homes are scattered across the landscape.

During the cyclone's peak, residents rescued each other out of waist-deep water 100m up from the high tide mark.

Kalorut sheltered 20 people in his 7m x 5m home.

Before the cyclone, his people grew crops, including taro, spring onions, island cabbage, bananas and coconuts, in their gardens to sell in the market place.

Now they barely have enough food to feed themselves, relying on government and international aid and a few small projects they run with tourists.


"We have lost everything. Everything has been destroyed," he tells me under the shade of a battered tree as we watch the rebuild team work in the sun.

The community is living off rice, a few root vegetables and bananas they managed to salvage from the storm - now being hidden carefully, packed under leaves to protect them from the weather.

Kalorut tells me it will be at least six months before they can start rebuilding their homes properly unless more help is offered.

The natakura, a wood from the palm family, is used to build the houses in their community, and all have been wiped out.

"We really appreciate this help," he tells me. "We don't know how to build some of this stuff ourselves."

Eton village elected women's representative for National Disaster Recovery Dora Willy says she knew the havoc Cyclone Pam left was going to be catastrophic.

"I saw with my naked eye as the corrugated iron was ripped off my roof," she said.

But Willy knows how important it is to get the community up and running again, including things such as the women's centre. "We use it for meetings and discussing women's issues which go on to be heard as far as on a national scale."

Physical, social, educational and spiritual issues are all heard between the hall's four walls, she says.

However, Willy says the most important issue now is to see the relief and aid coming into her village distributed evenly.

"I don't want to see anybody left out, we must share the little we have with everybody here."

If she is to distribute all the food she has been given she can only give as little as 1kg of rice to each family.

Some families have as many as six members, some more.

"I'm worried about the amount of food and water we have. We were told by Oxfam the water is unsafe to drink now."

The community is relying on Australian aid organisation Promedical to bring them fresh water every couple of days.

But she says her people are strong and will continue to smile - the Ni-Vanuatu way.

"We've lost belongings, our houses, but all our lives were saved. We thank God for such a challenge that we could face and come out the other end.

"Only togetherness will solve these problems for our community. If we don't work together, we can't fix this," she says, looking at the battered landscape.