It was odd to be back with the other volunteers, we were all back together which wasn’t meant to happen. But then again, most of what had happened in the last week wasn’t meant to happen.
Where we were staying people had realised there wasn’t really enough space for all of us to fit in and sleep, 19 volunteers, a family of four, soon to be five, and our two co-ordinators who had flown in.
The other people in the complex had opened their houses to us so we all got to sleep on a mattress of some sort. It was thicker than 5cm, that’s for sure, but apparently I thought I slept better at Level because I wasn’t so worried about them there, and I knew what was going on with my life.
On Saturday morning, I had an interview of sorts with Phil about what had happened at Level and that I really wanted to stay in Vanuatu. The future of that dream was looking pretty bleak because I was becoming aware of just how bad everything was.
Courtney and I were on a mission that morning, we went and found an internet café that also had computers. We did actually google our names and it’s so weird seeing your name and photo in the top hits of a google search. We read a few of them, but mostly we were there for facebook, to talk to people at home and reassure everyone that we were definitely not dead. It turns out there were 800 articles about me, which is insane. My mum told me that was the figure and it till blows my mind.
Our next trick was going to the supermarket. We bought what we considered a feast. There was no fruit or vegetables in the town so it was pretty much all bread based. There was a croissant each, chips, fruit juice, skittles and m’n’ms. When we got back to where we were staying we the only people around, so we enjoyed our feast and just hanging around doing nothing.
The two of us then went off to the airport to collect Kerri, Courtney’s mum. She was coming to look after all the volunteers so that the co-ordinators could get on with their jobs. We waited for ages at the airport, watching flights of defence relief workers come in, expats return, tourists roll out and aid come in. Kerri was among the last people off her flight but the screaming from her and Courtney was so worth it. I found myself dragged into a tight hug too.
She had brought food with her, we were all a bit amazed at how much she had managed to bring with her, people had donated so much. We were pretty pleased with ourselves because people had sent chocolate. If that can’t lift your spirits, I don’t know what can.
There was another briefing that night, our organisation wanted to keep us as busy as possible so we didn’t have time to mope around. Some guy turned up and asked if we could help him fill up water containers. So we did, because it was something we could to do help.
Sunday was just bizarre. I ended up at the Australian High Commission, meeting Julie Bishop. The lunch itself was pretty disappointing, but I can say that I have met some pretty powerful people and been interviewed about a hundred times. The paramedics who had been on the helicopter were there, Edda and Dave, and they helped us pull off the food heist of the century, smuggling out juice, chocolate and biscuits for the non-Australian volunteers who hadn’t been allowed to come.
That afternoon, Violet, Jasper and I collected plastic bottles that had been abandoned in the streets. There were 120 of them, which I washed and filled. Doing the maths, I think it was about 90 litres of water to hand out. It was something to do when I felt like there was nothing to do.
I found out that I couldn’t go back to Level, it was something that I knew but I had to be said before I would accept it. I had no idea what I was going to do next, it hurt so much and I cried so much I didn’t think I could cry anymore. All of this in a room full of people. There worst part was, there was nothing I could do about any of it.
Love From Me and My Backpack