Postcard from Operation Pacific Drought
25 October 2011
By AC Maria Oosterbaan
It is very exciting being in Tuvalu on my first overseas deployment. It is very hot and sunny
here, I have never experienced heat and humidity this intense before. As fast as I can drink
water, I sweat it back out of my pores!
The local people are very friendly and relaxed. They have been kind enough to let us stay in
the Tuvalu Workshop, where I’m staying with the Army on stretchers under mosquito domes.
Because of the drought, we don’t have much spare water to wash, so we have our daily
swim in the lagoon followed by a quick rinse off under the solar shower. Breakfast lunch and
dinner are ration packs. Getting your hands on any fresh fruit is close to impossible as it all
has to be shipped in from other islands because there is not enough water here for the
plants to grow fruit.
I am only here for a short time, so I have been very busy getting all the photos I need before
I go back home. I photographed the RNZAF Hercules loading and unloading people and
supplies, the Army running the desalinisation unit, testing water and assisting the production
of the island’s desalinisation units. I went with the local water truck drivers to deliver water to
the hospital and went to a meeting for all the parties supporting the water crisis.
It has been an awesome experience seeing our Defence Force all working together to bring
water to the people in Tuvalu and using my photos to show everyone back in New Zealand
all the hard work the NZDF is putting in.
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