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21

Jan

2005

Planning the Relief Trip

Today we had a planning meeting of our volunteer advisory committee. Below is a photo of the group. There are several other members that could not attend today. On the committee we have great assistance:

doctor: supplying medicines, assessments & care,
medical student: helping administer care,
psychiatrist: advising on depression and shock,
school teacher: our link to the government school system,
accountant: treasurer,
architect: advising on green building & sustainability practices,
attorney: providing the agreements between us and specific relief projects,
project manager: developing and monitoring relief projects, and
translator & administration support volunteers.

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Our plan is to provide ongoing assistance over the long term to the specific east coast region between Arugam Bay and Yale National Park. Tomorrow a small team is going to attempt to reach this region. Although the only access bridge is damaged, we know a military commander stationed at the bay who is hopefully going to assist with a boat crossing. Once we reach the Panama area, we will deliver water purification tablets, flashlights, medicines, and emergency dehydration packets. We are also bringing drawings from Arbor School (in Portland, OR) children as well as paper, crayons, and candy. Our understanding is that their school was destroyed and our team hopes to meet with the school principal and teachers to establish an ongoing connection with schools and children in the states.

The primary goal of the trip is to assess the ongoing and longer term needs of the community and develop plans to help rebuild. We will also be assessing the ongoing mental health needs of survivors. We have heard that there are children who will not leave the temporary shelters because they are afraid of the ocean. There are also people with diabetes and other illnesses who need to have their medicines, eyeglasses and hearing aids replaced. Many people are living in relief camps, however others have moved in with friends and relatives. The needs of these people are not easily assessed since they are somewhat unknown as survivors. Our team hopes to visit homes to see if there are survivors in need.

I am very impressed with the integrity and compassion of this grassroots group of volunteers. This effort has no administration costs–just people to people. I’ll send you an update with photos when we return.

Stuthi,

Carsten Henningsen