Wednesday, February 01, 2006
From tent camps to permanent structures
The group of four, Sarah, Sally, Roxy and Paddy, went back to Thailand to celebrate the 1 year tsunami anniversary. The ceremony united the local Thais, tourists, and volunteers that have all been involved in the atrocious tragedies of Dec 26th 2004 tsunami in the the Khao Lak region of Thailand. This ceremony enabled everyone to let go of the past and move on.
Update on the Crew
Paddy has gone back home to England for work. Roxanne has gone home as well, but plans to meet up with the team in March. Sally should be arriving in a week, and Sarah has come back with a new team member. Meet Mike everyone. Mike has worked in the tsunami hit area in Khao Lak with the rest of us.
pic of new team member "incredible mike" and Sarah
Chattar Kallas, Muzafarrabad district
Surprisingly and fortunately, this has been the mildest winter Kashmir has seen in years. About +25C during the day, and a mild +2C at night. They have received one week of precipitation, leaving areas in the valleys with 2 feet of water, and the higher elevated areas with minimal snow.
Coming back to our tent camp in Chattar Kallas has been amazing. Turkish Red Crescent have stepped up during our absence. They have replaced all single ply tents with winterized double ply tents. They have supplied as well 2 huge school tents.
pic of the "new" Chattar Kallas tent camp
WFP (World Food Program) have been supplying our camp with dry food rations, such as oil, rice and lentils, allowing families to slowly gain independence and enabling them to shortly start migrating back towards their homeland, or what is left of it.
A team of 4 Cuban doctors attend our camp daily to check up on injuries and illnesses.
Save the Children have set up 2 play tents where the children can borrow toys to play with. With easy accessibility to toys and games, the children are cooperating more with each other and fighting amongst each other has decreased a significant amount.
The government has supplied every tent with gas stoves. Unfortunately, these mountain people aren't used to using these stoves, and we've had 3 tents already go up in flames. Fortunately only mild injuries resulted from these fires. Now these stoves are being removed from all tents.
pic of Sarah playing "hokie-pokie" with the kids
The government aims to close all tent village camps by March 31st 2006 to start phase 2 of earthquake relief work: construction of permanent houses and schools. We've tagged along with different members of Dewan group who are starting reconstruction of permanent structures in Mistumba, Hatian tehsil of Muzafarrabad district.
pics from left to right: 1:remains of girls' highschool. 2: Primary school. 3: Shops from bazaar that have been detached from roadside.
Facts of Mistumba:
- All houses are in non-habitable conditions
- There are 700 families in this region, only 350 families have received 5 CGI sheets each, which is enough for building emergency shelters but not enough for building permanent houses. The required amount is at least 10-12 CGI sheets per family.
- We are short of at least 5000 sheets for the housing and another 2000 for the schools.
- The only NGO present in this area at the moment is IOM (International organization for Migration), who are supplying CGI sheets for the roofs.
- We aim to supply this region with another wood cutting saw so that hopefully all houses and schools can be rebuilt in the next year. Talking to villagers of this region, their main concern is to get schools back up and water running.
We will be providing bi-monthly updates once again. The Paypal website account is still up and running for any online donations. You can find the instructions at the bottom of the page.
pic of our new base camp. An example of the permanent houses that we will be building with basic wooden frame and CGI for roofing is shown in the central part of the pic
Thursday, December 22, 2005
Our colourful school painted by the children has been attracting alot of interest from NGOs, perhaps most importantly has encouraged a local NGO ITA to provide professional teachers qualified in trauma counselling as well as curriculum and school supplies for all children. This is much to our relief as the previous teachers who lacked qualification and had been using questionable disciplinary measures will be made redundant by this move.
ITA which is a fantastic group to have on board will also be using the school to host training workshops for both the men and the women with a view to more long term recovery.
Not surprisingly the children are more interested in the playground which has and will continue to provide hours of entertainment, a much needed change from playing in the dirt and trenches around the camp.
There is a real feeling of pride amongst the Dewan staff, something we all felt was lacking initially. This is a great development as we now feel secure that Chattar Kallas camp will continue to run smoothly.
The focus for returning will be on long term recovery and will most likley concentrate on helping vulnerable persons such as widows generate income and find prospects for the future whether it be returning to villages or reclocating.
We will continue to use this site to provide updates on our return to Pakistan for those persons interested.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
pakistan earth quake ground team week 5
Instilling management into this tent village has been a cultural challenge, a headache. The populaces of Pakistan tell us that their own people are very lazy. They've been used to getting told what to do their whole lives and have a hard time taking initiative. These mountain inhabitants have spent their whole lives far away from each other, in partial solitude, and have been very independent. Now the tragedy of October 8th has forced them all into sardine tight tent villages. Reality is, this is a crisis! Everyone must take initiative. We are showing and encouraging Dewan staff as well as the earthquake victims how imperative it is to cooperate with each other and start working with each other.
Some of the managers of the camp
Sarah: manages sanitation of the camp. Recent outbreaks of severe diarrhea have spawned in poorly sanitized camps and will continue to do so if not properly monitored.
Paddy and Roxanne: head the drainage department working in collaboration with Oxfam. With the winter moving stealthily in, we are receiving about 4-6 inches of rain a week. This is not much, but tents have already started to flood. With the expectancy of receiving up to 12 inches of rain and snow in the next few weeks, proper drainage in Chattar Kalas is urgent!
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
The UNHCR, which is the chief NGO that deals with refugee camps has reviewed our camp as being one of the best they have seen. Despite UNHCR wanting to eventually close all tent villages to encourage people to go back to their homes, reality remains that many of these mountain people are migrating down to the valleys for one main reason, because they know that they are not and will not be ready for the winter. To stay up in those high and remote areas with no proper shelter is to welcome death. Their only hope is to come down to these tent camps in the valleys
We have met up with another four incredible hard working volunteers. Dave and Mary Heaton (who some might remember from the Tsunami Volunteer Center in Thailand, Luke Buckmeov and Begonia Lopez Corona, one big happy family.
Consequently to the earthquake, market prices have sky rocketed. Basic food and building supplies have at least doubled in price. Locals know that foreigners are here to buy supplies and are taking full advantage of ripping us off. Locals rather make an extra dollar than help a fellow Pakistani from freezing to death this winter. It really leaves a bitter taste in our mouths about this culture. None the less, pulling our funds together we are building the temporary school that Sally is designing, as well as a playground. Responding to the 400 families' needs and requests, we are supplying each of them with 800g of powdered milk and 500 grams of honey, supplies that most NGO's do not provide, but that local natives judge very important. The milk is the little calcium that children will see through out the harsh winter. Honey for these people is seen as a medicinal healing as well as an over all mental and physical reinforcement, very important to survive the winter.
Saturday, November 12, 2005
Earthquake Ground Team Week 3
Muzaffarabad- Pakistan, November 14th.
It has now been a fortnight since we arrived in Islamabad, Pakistan. Things have been 100 mph to say the least. Upon arrival we met up with "I Help UK", an NGO who is giving assistance to trauma shock patients. We spent a couple of days with them in Islamabad going to hospitals and offering counseling to mainly children and women. None the less, we still knew there was a more urgent need up north, in the remote areas of the Himalayas. We signed up with Sungi, a local Pakistani NGO who rushed us to Muzaffarabad district. Muzzafarabad district consists of:
average house after earthquake
- Elevation ranging from 1,500 meters to 4,500 meters.
- Certain areas will be receiving up to 6 feet of snow in the next couple of months.
- Death toll has reached over 50 000 in this district alone
- Over 1 million are still homeless.
- Basic aid has reached 30% of the affected population in this district. The other 70% unfortunately live in very remote areas of the Himalayas.
- 80% of jobs are down, making it almost impossible for families to make their own way financially.
Through Sungi, we distributed 3,071 blankets, 5871 mats and 2000 water buckets. Through working on aid distribution, we came to realise that aid has to be delivered rationally and equally; every house hold in a community has to receive the same aid at the same time, if this is not done, jealousy amongst fellow villagers creates violence and more seperation and more problems. Unfortunately, after our first aid distribution, Sungi closed down operations for 5 days due to Eid, the equivalent of Christmas in the Christian world. We took advantage of this dead time to move on with our own projects. We met up with a few more foreign volunteers and headed up to "Danna Ghan Chatter", a high and remote village where no aid had yet been given. Our goal was to start building emergency shelters for the villagers to last the winter by re-using the resources left over from the earthquake. Unfortunately, through talking to the villagers about helping them to rebuild temporary shelter, the majority weren't even sure if they would stay through out the winter in their villages. Many are realizing that the winter will be too harsh to stay up that high with the little of supplies left. Many are still overwhelmed by fear, and are traveling over hundreds of kilometers by foot to reach to the cities and hope for aid and shelter.
Being in the area, and by having worked through a local Pakistani NGO, we realised how communications between international NGOs and local Pakistani NGOs is very poor. There is a UN compound based in Muzaffarabad where all international NGOs are suppost to report all data of assessed areas to see which communities have received aid. After week 4 of this disaster, the UN headquarters still do not have any precise figures and have no idea about the activities carried out by the local Pakistani NGOs. This is causing huge duplication of supplies in certain areas, and leaving other key areas without any aid what so ever.
We subsequently went back to Muzaffarabad city where we met up with the "Dewan Group", a group of Pakistani businessmen who have regrouped all their resources and funds to set up refugee camps. We helped finish up their second refugee camp, consisting of 450 clustered tents. As soon as a tent was put up, a family immediately settled in. We noticed how these refugee camps were in such high demand . We collaborated with Dewan Group and "Tzsu chi", (a Taiwan based NGO) who reconfirmed guidelines for site planning. We found a site 20 minutes out of Muzaffarabad city, a valley in the middle of the Himalayas. We've planned out a spacious tent village that should accommodate about 400 tents with lots of extra space for children to run around, area for a mosque and a community center. We currently have raised enough funds to see that every tent receives 2 mattresses and 2 quilts, which is just enough warmth to make it through the night. We know this because we live in the same tents with the same supplies and still shiver at night.
Day one: setting up new refugee camp
There is still a huge immediate need for tents, blankets, warm clothes, school supplies, basic food and cooking utensils. The Dewan group covers 2 basic meals a day for all refugees. There is a huge importance for these people to find enough supplies to become self-sufficient through out the winter.
Day 4: chilling out in the new refugee camp of 400 tents
After being on the ground now for two weeks we feel we have assesed enough to know where our help will be best put to use. With 90% of the population of kashmere now heading into the cities, there is an immediate need to establish more refugee camps and have them managed and organised. Each camp will hold approximately 2000-3000 people. Each camp must have proper sanatation, security, drainage, food, schools, religous centers etc. It is Dewan's wish that we stay to set up new camps as well as manage them. This is immediate clear cut work that sees immediate results.
Thank you so much to those who have and are making this project possible. The people of Pakistan, along with ourselves, are very touched by the huge support that we've received. We will be in contact within the next two weeks
Group email firstname.lastname@example.org
Sarah : email@example.com
Saturday, October 22, 2005
pakistan earthquake ground team week 1
Five experienced tsunami relief workers are heading into the disaster zone of Pakistan. They need a small amount of funding. Please take a quick glance at their project proposal.
A 7.6 earthquake hit South Asia at 08:50 (03:50GMT) on October 8th. Main countries affected were Pakistan, India and Afghanistan. It's the most devastating quake these countries have seen in the last century.
- Official death toll in Pakistan as of October 11th, 2005, stands at 40,000 and continues to rise
- Currently there is no water, no electricity, no fuel and no phone lines.
- There is a great risk of widespread hunger and disease
- 3 million people are in need of shelter
- As winter approaches the risks of hypothermia and related problems set in
- Muzaffarabad and surrounding areas estimate 70-80% infrastructure devastation
- Child mortality is expected to rise tremendously in Muzaffarabad as 50% of the total population were under the age of 16 prior to the earthquake and in school at the time
- Landslides, torrential rain and repeated aftershocks have hindered rescue efforts, have made transportation and communication nearly impossible and have caused widespread panic
- Many isolated areas in the Himalayas are waiting on the help of helicopters which are inundated with demand.
- These figures continue to increase daily.
Immediate Plan of Action
To raise funds to send 5 young adults with experience in disaster zones to Pakistan. Once on location, they will dedicate their time volunteering in which ever areas mostly needed, from body search to basic clean up and restoration. At the same time, they will be researching in the poorest and rural areas for families and communities that have been missed in the helping process. Having learned from their post-tsunami relief work, there are always gaps in the system of aid. Once communities and families have been identified, this team will notify local NGO's and once again fundraise to help get these people back onto their feet.
The People Taking Action
Home Town: Saskatoon, Sk, Canada
Disaster relief: 5 months in PhangNga region of Thailand
Languages spoken and written: French, English and Spanish
Home town: Oxford, England
Disaster relief: 10 months in PhangNga region of Thailand
Languages: English, basic German, Spanish and French
Home town: Calgary, AB, Canada
Disaster relief: 3 months in PhangNga region of Thailand
Languages: English and French
Home town: Lismore, Australia
Disaster relief: 4 months in PhangNga region of Thailand
Skills: bricklaying, rendering, carpentry, cement work
"Throughout the year 2005, we have been working doing relief work in the PhangNga province of Thailand, the worst hit area by the tsunami in this country. Arriving during the initial crisis, we worked side by side with Thai nationals and foreigners in different aspects of this country's restoration."
- Developing a database of personal information for all affected people
- Developing an infrastructure in the information office and administration
- Managing an environmental and land restoration project
- Re-inauguration of businesses
- Carpentry for schools and homes
- Working on various construction sites
"After seeing and experiencing the devastation caused by the tsunami in Southeast Asia, we decided to dedicate our time to assisting affected people in any way possible. Our decision to go a disaster hit area to volunteer and support has been extremely rewarding, especially knowing that we have made such a difference. After seeing the turmoil in which Pakistan is in, we wish to move on and help the next immediate crisis, especially now as our current projects have come to completion"
Proposal for Sponsorship
We are five humanitarians who came together in the wake of the Southeast Asia Tsunami. We all met up through the Tsunami Volunteer Centre (http://www.tsunamivolunteer.net/) in the PhangNga province of Thailand, now a very important Non Government Organization in this area.
We will be travelling straight from post-tsunami Thailand to the heart of Islamabad, Pakistan. We plan to meet with several professional contacts to assist us with logistics in advance and on arrival (e.g.: Sungi Development Foundation & CO. I HELP UK). We need funding for transportation and basic support (e.g.: food, accommodation, health care etc). We will leave as soon as we raise the funds indicated in the budget. All donations received after the budget total will be put straight to necessity needs for affected people such as food, clothing, tents etc
Our goal is to fundraise U.S. $2,000 per person which covers all transportation and living costs for two months. Please see here for budget detail. Donations of any size are very helpful and greatly appreciated.
For those interested in donating, you can donate by Visa, MasterCard, Discover or American Express online at: http://www.paypal.com/ This is the same web site that Ebay uses, (quick and efficient money transactions) If you have not used Paypal before, first you must sign up as a member and create an account. This is a free process taking a total of 10 min., in which Paypal will take you step by step. So will we.
First option is to choose an account, we suggest premium for quick set up.
- Enter personal information for account, making sure to enter an email you have quick access to (confirmation email will be sent there) keep all information somewhere safe.
- Retrieve confirmation email and click on account activation tab.
- Then you click on the send money tab, and fill out the form.
- If you are paying by credit card, do not select Quasi-Cash for your bank might recognise this transaction as a cash advance, (and charge you an extra fee) Instead select goods(other)
- Then you write in the recipient’s e-mail address: :firstname.lastname@example.org amount, the currency, the payment type, and an optional subject and note.
- Click Continue.
- Review the information on the confirmation page and click Send Money to complete your transaction
If you wish to donate personally to one member of the team below please get in contact via the email addresses provided.If you have any questions, please contact us as soon as possible. We will reply within 24 hours. Bi weekly updates will be supplied with the amount of donations received as well as the projects in which we’ll be partaking in Pakistan.
Contact Information:Group email email@example.com
Paddy: tel : 0066-99-70-50-48 or email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Sally: email: email@example.com
Roxanne: email: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org