When disaster strikes, there are the people who are affected and then there are the people who are in a position to help out – it is often easy to think that these are different groups of people. However, any outside organisation that is in a position to provide meaningful help will be highly dependent upon those on the ground who will have a clearer understanding of what is needed and the specific practical issues relating to how that need can be met.
While our organisation is able to bring disaster aid equipment, funds and expertise to the table, we always consult with the affected communities to identify what aid is needed and then work with those communities to distribute that aid. However, before we get to that position, we would also need to consult with local organisations to help us identify the real priorities. This is where the Rotary network comes into its own. Local Rotary clubs are normally the first port of call for our Disaster Aid Response Team (DART) members for local advice and information which is typically invaluable. Ideally, we would also look to work with a local partner, typically an NGO, that can also provide practical logistical support for receiving the imported aid (or sourcing it locally) and then getting the aid to the required destinations.
In Nepal, we have been very fortunate to partner with a local NGO, Community Developmnent and Relief Agency (CDRA) whose director, Ashok Kumar Shrestha, is also a member of Rotary Club of Dhulikhel. CDRA works closely with the Nepal Rotary District Disaster Relief fund whose Secretary, Nugel Vaidya, was able to undertake responsibility for liason with the cluster groups set up by the UN on our behalf. CDRA was very active in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake distributing a range of emergency equipment including over 700 buckets filled with food and essential items. CDRA then continued to work with a number of international organisations, including ourselves, to provide longer terms support such as shelter.
CDRA has produced a short but very moving video which provides a clear insight into what it was like to be physically involved in an earthquake of such magnitude, the devastation it caused and how local organisations rallied round to organise help.
We take this opportunity to thank Rotarians Ashok Kumar Shrestha and Nugel Vaidya for their invaluable input into our ongoing deployment.
We are still working with CDRA in Nepal and our second DART team will be arriving in a few days to take over from the first one that has been there since 13 May. If you would like to help us in our work, please consider making a donation.