I haven’t heard from my parents for 10 days. That was the year of 2015. There was a reason behind that. The tiny nation of Vanuatu was being severely battered by a category five cyclone and this monster was called Pam. The power lines were down so it meant our communications were non-existent. Cyclone Pam struck Vanuatu and the Pacific region over a period from the 6th March to 20th March 2015. However, the 14th of March became the night where it really rocked our families in Vanuatu.
I was so busy negotiating a deal to settle this real estate where I practically had no support with. It was enough to make me scream but I was determined to see what my powers would do-rise above the challenge or break me! In hindsight, I gave credit to my mental health-despite the toughest chaos of all. As you can see-the real estate was a gem! It is still a personal treasure as it has taught me so much more. Who wouldn’t go past it without blinking twice?
A week prior, I was up in Hamilton at the Waikato University for the weekend to do some translation work for the Ninde Language of Vanuatu for the Linguistics department there. I settled the real estate deal (and the conditions) on the phone there (away from home) with my real estate investment team. Its something I had never done before but have read about in my extensive research on real estate investments-real estate investors do settle deals over the phone wherever in the world they may be.
I had a full time job going all hours of the day while periodically reconnecting with emails, phone calls and social media to get regular updates from Vanuatu. Being the Secretary of the Wellington Vanuatu Community, it was skates on as communications became paramount to delegating and coordinating aid and relief supplies. Dr Pala Molisa and the Wellington Vanuatu Community became instrumental as we ran the show together. The media played a vital role with communicating to the Wellington public-it was overwhelming to see the generous donations pouring in to help support our Vanuatu people. I had different hats on which I switched roles and leveraged out for two weeks-it was quite bizzare and I couldn’t quite pinpoint the high adrenaline I was exhibiting.
From organising notices on social media, to writing emails, dealing with the media, to reaching out to my networks to driving for hours meeting up with the Mayors of Wairarapa to coordinate relief supplies, it was a busy two weeks. I have never worked so hard. Amongst it all, I have a small window of opportunity to still have my investors hat on and coordinate with my real estate team. It was tough. It sounds tough. I had very little sleep as I had not heard from my parents while everyone else had heard from their families. Each day I anxiously wait to hear from them. My work colleagues supported me with a work fundraising for my parents-it was too emotional hearing the stories of the donations pouring in to help raise the roof on my parents house. On the 10th day in the evening while I was preparing to go to bed, my phone rang. I had just come home from a church service that my colleagues at Wellington Celebrants had organised with the St Johns Presbyterian Church in the city to remember those who have been deeply affected by the natural disaster. The prayers helped with my spiritual being. I was calmed. My mental health was safe.
The voice on the other line was breaking yet so relieved to speak to another human being. It was my father. I captured it on my social media page on the 19th March 2015 which drew hundreds of attention:
I have the best news in the world! No matter the destruction and despair, the grief and the loss, the heartaches, the sleepless nights, the tears, desperation, the stress and chaos of what had been really unsettling in my country, I had held on! Tonight at 0910pm, my father rang me from the island of Malekula, Vanuatu-A distressed father who was so relieved to hear her own daughters voice but had terror in his voice-“We nearly died! We have no food! We slept in water! Our house withstood the cyclone and we evacuated families into our home!” 10 days of anguish over! I am grateful, just so relieved! Oh God! You really are powerful in everyway!!!
The next day, friday 20th March 2015 I settled the real estate deal. I did not have time to do the final inspection of the property so my close friend Maureen Tait and her mother Jenny Wharton had the honour of meeting the vendors (the vendors sent their love and aroha in light of the current cyclone disaster) and inspected the beautiful gem. I slept. My mental health was safe.
I later acknowledged my team on social media that through this post on the 21st of March 2015
In the space of less than a week, my private life was in the media spotlight locally, nationally and internationally! There has been some tough and dark times but resilient and persistence became words that summed me up through it all with the incredible support from friends and families, close and far wider in the international community. The people of Vanuatu are indeed resilient and the rebuilding has started. I can’t thank the international community enough for ongoing aide that has poured and will continue to be poured into our beloved country to strengthen it. We have found ways to acknowledge our grief and loss for our families and our nation and a lot of us are still mourning. It will take years and we are all still affected by such devastation and displacement. My family have been so courageous and strong despite losing their properties, our animals and birds. It is so heart-breaking! But through this incredibly tough times, I kept my humanitarian perspective and investor hat on! To my loving parents who have taught me so many great things and most of all to give what you have back to the community as it is the backbone of society: I am a proud new homeowner again and a land-lord/lady! This is for you both! Thank you to all who have supported me to putting my investors hat on; Mortgage Broker, Real Estate Agents (Harcourts, Tommys & Professionals in Mana), Lawyers, Builders, Roofers, Plumbers & Electricians, Investors, Valuers, Porirua City Council, Wellington Library, Accountant, Bankers, Insurance Brokers and more importantly my friends and family who have kept me close at heart. I couldn’t have done it all without you all. My Aroha to you all-I have wonderful reasons to celebrate now 🙂 xxx
I hope to write a book soon to help those who are so afraid to take that first step into taking some really big risks in life. It will have insights and lessons to how a village girl growing up in a western culture became a real estate investor. It will be titled “How to buy a real estate property in the middle of a category five natural disaster.”