Aid Workers: The Logistics Guy

 


Anonymous_blogEvan Schuurman, Media Officer

Philippines

November 25, 2013

 


 

When it comes to aid workers responding to mass disasters like Typhoon Haiyan, there isn’t much sexy about being the logistics guy.

But when you need to get stuff done, he makes it happen.

 

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Steve Wells

Seasoned aid worker Steve Wells manages the vital role in Save the Children’s rapid response team, which was deployed to Roxas on the island of Panay, one of the worst affected areas in the Philippines.

Steve sourced vehicles for our assessment of the northeast coastline, organised a makeshift office with wifi in a town with no power, and arranged for plane after plane transporting aid to come to the island.

He booked trucks and recruited staff for the distribution, planning every intricate detail to ensure the delivery could happen.

“It’s all well and good to have funds to provide relief in emergencies, but if you can’t make those donations work given the situation on the ground, there’s no point,” he said.

“For me, when I come to a scene of devastation like the one we found in Panay, it’s about making connections with the people who can help you out. They are incredible assets when you aren’t familiar with a place.

“We also want to source as much of our materials and products locally to support the local economy and get more bang for our buck, while making sure not to undermine the local economy.”

Steve works late into the night at the humanitarian coordination centre he helped to set up, and which is based in the provincial office building. He cooperates with other organisations about sharing resources or to get advice.

More often than not however, they are looking to him for guidance.

Steve’s been in the ‘logs’ business for almost a decade, having been deployed all over the world including to Sri Lanka for the tsunami and civil war, to Pakistan during the floods and to Mali during the famine.

Here in Panay, he’s the one that gets stuff done.

“Sourcing and distributing emergency kits in a disaster like this one is a complicated process and there are a lot of people involved,” he said. 66935scr_addf9f69a61f310

“Here in Panay, once we set up our base, we’ve been able to transport aid onto the island from various parts of the Philippines, find a warehouse to store the kits and recruit volunteers and staff to help with mass distributions.

“It’s all about making sure we provide the aid as quickly, safely and efficiently as possible to meet the needs of thousands of vulnerable families.”

The 5 People You Meet In A Refugee Camp

Lane Hartill

Lane Hartill, Director of Media and Communications

Dadaab Refugee Camp, Kenya

August 23, 2011 


After a week in Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee camp, I realized something:  Aid workers work day and night.

I’d wander over to the office at night and someone would be leaning into their computer, face aglow.  There’s not a lot to do here in during down time. I asked a colleague what she did to unwind. “I listen to loud music,” she said flatly. Some retreat to quiet corners and Skype with family members far away. Others run around the perimeter of the United Nations compound, calves burning as they churn through the soft sand.

What did I do? I stretched out in my tent and made lists. I have one in front of me now. It’s all the people I met in Dadaab.

I’d  like you to meet five of them. Their stories are the jaw droppers you hear in the camp. But their spirit, drive and kindness are the qualities that you see in the camp but rarely read about.

  1. Hussein has resilience. I met the 13 year old Somali boy sitting outside of the Save the Children office. He’d recently arrived in the camp and was living with a sister. He tried out his limited English with me, then we fell into a conversation about airplanes based solely on sign language. It was clear that his sister was having a hard time supporting him. His T-shirt was badly stained and his pants didn’t fit.  He shined shoes in the market, a smart business move given the constant blowing dust and sand. He happily showed me a scar on his leg he got from thugs in Somalia. Despite his tough life, he was all smiles. Save the Children was helping him and he’d just received a new red T-shirt.
  2. Noor has perseverance. He’s the proud owner of the "Praise God" boutique in Ifo market, a spacious zinc shed with piles of tomatoes and onions on display. Not long ago, before he got involved in the Save the Children fresh food voucher project, Noor was struggling. Customers weren’t buying his paltry selection of dry goods. Even he admits, his selection stunk. He’d make around $2 profit on a good day. Not exactly enough money to feed nine children. But now, thanks to Save the Children, he makes $10 a day and customers flock to him for his potatoes, tomatoes and onions. Save the Children’s fresh food voucher projects has changed his life.
  3. Najib has a personality that won’t quit. I met him at the child friendly space in Hagadera. He was clearly the big man on campus despite the fact he didn’t weigh 40 pounds. He had a personality that filled the room and dance moves that would make Justin Timberlake jealous. And not an ounce of stage fright. He belted out Somali tunes, while strutting in front of a crowd of fans (kids sitting on the floor).  And just think: Not long ago, Najib arrived alone in the camp. The child friendly space has brought him out of his shell.  Najib, I could tell, has a bright future.
  4. Rose has patience. She runs Save the Children’s Dadaab operation. She’s makes decisions that affect the lives of thousands of refugees every day. These challenges would send weaker women running for the comforts of the city. But Rose is never crabby or flustered. She’s passing this cool demeanor on to her children. Consider this: Her 4-year-old daughter, who is cared for by a relative while Rose is in Dadaab, saw hungry Kenyans on TV and refused food. She had enough food, she declared, and wanted to give it to those in need. Rose convinced her people in need were being helped, that she needed to eat. She relented. One thing is clear: she has her mom’s heart.
  5. Ibrahim has heart. Ibrahim Adan, 48, is a wiry man who favors T-shirts and sarongs, the typical outfit for many Somali men. He grew up in Somalia and used to raise camels, goats and cattle. But the conflict drove him to Kenya in the early 1990s. He now sells chickens in the market in Dadaab.  But sit with Ibrahim for a while and you realize his real skill is parenting. And multitasking. One child swings in his sarong like a hammock, while Ibrahim disciplines another outside and answers questions from a guest. He’s been a foster parent for Save the Children for the last few years. He has five children of his own and four foster children.  Why does he foster kids?  Growing up in Somalia his parents were foster parents to 12 children. “Now I’m on the same path,” Ibrahim told me. “Whether you are a Christian or a Muslim,” he told me, “When you see someone suffering, you need to step in and help.”

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Learn more about our response to the food crisis in the Horn of Africa.

Help Us Respond to the Food Crisis in the Horn of Africa. Please Donate Now.

 

 

Live Blog: Children at Risk in Libya

55 Geof Giacomini, Save the Children, Egypt Country Director

Cairo, Egypt

Geof reports from Cairo on the impact of unrest on children in Egypt and Libya. Geof plays a key role in providing relief for refugee children and their families fleeing from unrest in neighboring Libya. Save the Children is mounting relief efforts in the wake of a violent uprising against embattled Libyan leader, Muammar Qaddafi.

When I returned to the Middle East in the midst of the Egyptian revolution, I never would have suspected that Libya would soon follow. Now, the Libyan turmoil and violence is getting worse.Thousands of families have been forced to flee the country for fear of their lives.

The UN reports that thousands of people have sought refuge here in Egypt. Countless others have arrived in Tunisia. Libyan refugees have no where to go but to countries still struggling with unrest themselves.

Resize_imageAn Egyptian boy who fled Libya, walks across the border before being transported to a nearby Tunisian army camp. 
Credit REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

In response to the unrest and emerging refugee crisis, our emergency relief teams have been working tirelessly. Our US logistics expert and aid program director arrived safely at the border. We take very strict security measures and stock the vehicles with provisions and emergency communications equipment such as satellite phones.

Our team continues to support children caught in the violence andendeavours to meet their needs. We want to make sure that children caught up in this crisis are cared for and protected.

Boys and girls in these situations also face serious risks to their health and safety. Children can often get lost in the chaos. If they get separated from their families, they may go hungry or get hurt easily without parents to protect them. They are vulnerable to emotional distress from being uprooted from their homes, schools and all that is familiar to them.

So far, needs center around the basics – food, shelter and health care. We will be partnering with the humanitarian community on these essentials. We will also be working to reunite families and providing support for children who have been exposed to trauma.

More to come from the field as things unfold. We could really use some extra help right about now.

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Get more news about Save the Children and unrest in the Middle East and North Africa

 

Save the Children Humanitarian Response in Philippines- Sponsorship Update

Riel Andaluz Riel Andaluz, Philippines sponsorship manager

Manila, Philippines

Friday, October 22, 2010

 

Save the Children is actively responding to the current emergency in the Philippines.  Initial estimates from the province of Isabela, where Typhoon Megi made landfall Monday, are of over 82,600 homes damaged or destroyed and over 1 million children and adults affected. 

Save the Children first wants to let you know that the region struck by the typhoon is more than 250 miles north of Save the Children’s sponsorship program area in the capital of Manila. To the best of our knowledge, all girls and boys in our Philippines sponsorship programs are safe.

We will work on keeping our sponsors up-to-date with our emergency response efforts.  You can learn more about our post-typhoon work and find out how you can help by visiting Save the Children’s website.

If you have any immediate concerns please contact Donor Services at 1-800- SAVETHECHILDREN (1-800-728-3843) or email us at twebster@savechildren.org.  Thank you for your concern and we hope you will help the people of the Philippines who have been devastated by Typhoon Megi.

Learn more about our response to Typhoon Megi

Donate now to our Philippines Typhoon Children in Emergency Fund

Texting Empowers Pakistanis

Dhheadshot Dave Hartman, Save the Children, internet marketing and communications specialist

Westport, CT

Friday, October 8, 2010

In the aftermath of the devastating earthquake in Haiti, it quickly became apparent that text messaging could be used by charities as a powerful fundraising tool. Save the Children, UNICEF and the Red Cross, among others, recieved significant donations to support our response to the crisis. Cell phone

Well here at Save the Children, we've figured out a new way to harness the power of text messaging and mobile devices in order to empower those affected by a disaster. We’ve implemented a text-messaging response service in Pakistan to handle any issues that might arise with our aid distribution.

How does it work?

We set up “hubs” in Sindh, Punjab, Swat and DI Khan provinces, where people can call or text a suggestion or complaint about our health clinics and distribution centers. Once a comment is received, we circulate it to the relevant team who devise a way to implement the suggestion or address the complaint.

Every one of our Monitoring and Evaluations officers carries a cell phone dedicated solely to this suggestion/complaint hotline. (The Monitoring and Evaluations team make sure programs are running smoothly and efficiently.)

We also have a database set up where each and every complaint is filed so we know:

  1. What the complaint was
  2. How it was resolved

This revolutionary concept will allow us to ensure that our efforts have the greatest possible benefit for the flood-affected children of Pakistan. It also empowers Pakistanis to have input into the relief and rebuilding process, something that is crucial to getting those affected back to living normal lives.

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Learn more about our emergency response to the flooding in Pakistan

Help Us Respond to the Pakistan Flood Emergency. Please Donate Now.

Mind-Boggling Destruction in South Punjab

Friday, August 27, 2010 

Save the Children's Reporting Coordinator in Pakistan

After spending three weeks in the cold mountainous Swat
valley, I arrived in the hot and humid climate of Multan to work
alongside Save the Children teams working in the worst affected
districts of Muzaffargarh, Rajanpur and Dera Ghazi Khan. The floods
arrived here a week after the showers began in late July. There were
reports of nearly 300,000 people displaced overnight. There was also
news of entire villages living on the highways and in government
schools of Muzaffargarh and Multan. However, none of the reports came
close to the reality on ground.


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Displaced by flooding her village, Sakina camps at the side of the road with her 10 children and goat
Photo Courtesy Jason Tanner

Destruction in Muzaffargarh


The sight of makeshift shelters and tents begins at
xthe border of Muzaffargarh and Multan districts. Long lines of men,
women and children are found loitering on both sides of the busy
traffic. Besides those displaced from remote areas, people of nearby
villages are also found on the highway – their dilapidated homes
visible a few meters away.  It is mind-boggling to consider the
populations affected by the floods. In the district of Kot Addo the
lives of approximately 112,000 men, women and children have been
disrupted. These vast numbers of people do not have food, shelter,
clothing, access to health care and have completely lost their
livelihoods due to the floods. They will certainly require assistance
in the coming months, if not years, to not only resettle and establish
their lives but also to rejuvenate their income generating activities.


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Imtiaz, 25, with her 2-day-old unnamed baby
Photo Courtesy Jason Tanner

Relief to Brahimwala

Save the Children is the first NGO that has provided
food rations here. The packages include wheat, lentils, cooking oil,
micronutrient biscuits as well as tents, jerry cans, water buckets and
blankets to people who have lost their homes in district Muzaffargarh.
During one such distribution to the village of Brahimwala, I learned
how the villagers had departed from their homes in haste to reach safe
ground 25 kilometers away in the city of Muzaffargarh. There were no
registration points or information centers available for the displaced
to receive aid. They spent many days under the open sun before finding
temporary shelters on open grounds, roads and rampantly setup camps.
Food and drinking water distribution was irregular and chaos erupted
each time a truck arrived with provisions.

Unfortunately, the urban poor who live in shantytowns
of Muzaffargarh and Multan had joined the displaced to fight for
whatever donations they could lay their hands on. The needs are so
great.

As soon as the waters receded displaced people
returned to their homes. Although, most villages are still submerged
with the flood’s deluge of putrid water and mud, families have pitched
up tents alongside roads and canals. Water in Brahimwala has withdrawn,
demolishing each and every house in the village. The conditions are
appalling but with nowhere else to turn, people are living amidst mud,
flies and the remains of their houses squashed on the ground. The murky
flood waters and searing heat has worsened the dismal condition and
have increased the prevalence of diseases like diarrhea, malaria, skin
and respiratory infections.

Each and every member of Save the Children realizes
that an intense and continued support is essential to normalize the
lives of flood-affected people in Pakistan.



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Shamim,45, mourns the death of her four children and husband.

Photo Courtesy Jason Tanner

‘The Spirit of the People’ Still Strong in Post-Earthquake Haiti

Lee Nelson-Save the Children  


Lee Nelson, Save the Children country director



Port-au-Prince, Haiti

January 26, 2010

A little girl named Eliassaint, age 10, used to live in Plaine, Croix des Bouquets, a northern suburb of Port-au-Prince known for its rich history and culture. But the earthquake took both her home and her parents from her. She now resides in camp Cepem, Delmas 33, in Port-au-Prince.

The camp currently holds 400 families, as well as 38 children who have lost their parents. Eliassaint (pictured at right with another child in the camp) was rescued by her uncle.

Eliassaint: Save the Children“I was behind my house studying when the earthquake happened. My mother and father were inside and they died, so did my three cousins,” she said. 

“I do not have any brothers or sisters. My uncle looked after me and then he and my aunt brought me to this camp.”

Eliassaint’s story is all too common for many Haitian children. It is estimated that approximately 500,000 children now are unaccompanied, orphaned or left with one parent, as a direct result of the earthquake. 

The situation in Haiti, prior to the quakes, was already a precarious one for children. About 80 percent of the population lived on less than $2 per day, and one in four children was malnourished. 

There were huge problems with child trafficking and child education. However, this most recent blow is endangering the future of an entire generation of Haitian children. 

In the midst of this unprecedented calamity, two things have sustained the staff and given us hope for Haiti’s future. 

First, the spirit of the people has been remarkable. On the streets, where tens of thousands still sleep at night, and in hundreds of makeshift camps that have sprung up in clearings amid the rubble, there is still a sense of community where neighbors and strangers work together for survival.

Second, the scale and extent of the support received from Save the Children’s members around the world has been incredible. We are truly working together as a global organization with an amazingly dedicated team that have been willing to immediately act in aiding children in very vulnerable positions.

The heartfelt messages  of support, the highly qualified staff who report every day and the extraordinary amount of financial and media support has given me the sense of belonging to a family.

Child Friendly Space: Save the Children On the ground, Save the Children programs are rapidly scaling up, and every day we reach more and more children and their families. Already we have helped about 10,000 children, like Eliassaint, who now can play in safe spaces. None of this would have been possible without members’ critical assistance.

This is only the first step in a long road to recovery for Haiti. Save the Children has been working here for more than 32 years, and it is vital that humanitarian groups see this as a long-term effort.

In this initial relief stage, Save the Children will create even more Child Friendly Spaces to help children to recover from their trauma and provide their parents with time and resources for economic recovery.

Getting children back to school as quickly as possible will help return some semblance of normalcy to their shattered lives.

Many other challenges also remain, and the organization cannot do this alone. Disaster events can sharpen the focus on the true problems of a struggling country and provide unique opportunities to address fundamental problems in new and creative ways.

So this dispatch brings a message of thanks and a request for your continued support, guidance and vision to enable Save the Children to join in a common effort to help Haiti “build back better”.

Learn more about our emergency response to the earthquake in Haiti.

Help Us Respond to the Haiti Earthquake Emergency. Please Donate Now.

YOU CAN DONATE $10 TO THE HAITI EARTHQUAKE RELIEF FUND BY TEXTING “SAVE” to 20222 (US Only). Standard message rates  apply.