Stranded Rotary volunteers arrive home in style

A group of Aussie teens stranded on the island of Tanna in southern Vanuatu following the collapse of Air Vanuatu in May have arrived home in style after a generous offer from P&O Cruises Australia.

The young volunteers from the Rotary Club of Hive in Albury, NSW, had been taking part in a program called Pay It Forward, which delivers health programs for local communities, when the airline collapsed.

The group of 16 students and their chaperones heard the airline was in trouble after they flew into Port Vila on Sunday, May 5.

On Thursday, May 9, the airline announced that all its international flights were cancelled.

The young volunteers were scheduled to fly with Air Vanuatu from Tanna to Port Vila on Saturday, May 18, and then take a connecting flight back to Australia.

President of the Rotary Club of Hive, Kellie Kadoui, said once the airline’s flights were cancelled, they were left with two options – wait for a boat that made two trips a week from Tanna to Port Vila, or pay for an expensive private charter flight that would cost $5,000.

The group was incredibly grateful when Vanuatu Tourism offered to cover the costs of the flight off Tanna and couldn’t believe their luck when P&O Cruises Australia offered to bring them home aboard Pacific Adventure, free of charge.

“We were delighted to help this inspiring group of students get home,” said P&O Cruises Australia Senior Vice President Peter Little.

“We are proud of our Australian heritage that extends back more than 90 years, and answering a call to help young Australians stranded a long way from home, was the right thing to do.”

The volunteers enjoyed a relaxing holiday at sea, including a visit to beautiful Mystery Island; a well-deserved reward after their work in Vanuatu running health clinics and providing medical assistance and training.

“We were jumping for joy when P&O made their offer after such a frustrating and stressful few days wondering how we were going to get home,” said Kellie. “It was a wonderful way to finish our volunteering trip.”

The group of grateful Rotarians arrived in Sydney on Thursday, May 23, tanned and relaxed; ready to undertake their next adventure doing good in the world.

MAIN PICTURE: A group of 16 young Rotary volunteers stranded on Tanna Island in southern Vanuatu became the recipients of a dream rescue, when P&O Cruises Australia offered to bring them home aboard Pacific Adventure, free of charge.