Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Yesterday we posted an updated bulletin regarding The Salvation Army’s ongoing relief work in Pakistan in response to the area’s devastating floods.
Today we are sharing the firsthand account of Major Dennis Gensler of The Salvation Army Pakistan Territory regarding his efforts in the recovering communities. Some of his narrative expands on the events described in yesterday’s bulletin, and much of the narrative provides additional detail exclusive to Major Gensler’s own experience. We hope it will provide you with a more personal view of The Salvation Army’s relief efforts and the plight of flood survivors.
“We left Territorial Headquarters Saturday 14 August at 4:30 am for the four hour trip to Islamabad to pick up other members of the Disaster team before going the remaining two hours to Charsadda. We were in two vehicles as the plan was to leave the four-wheel drive truck with the Islamabad team for their future visits to the flood areas.
We were grateful for the good organization that Captain Asif in Peshawar had arranged. Each family that was to be helped had a paper with their name and identification number on it and they were numbered from 1 to 100. After showing their identification card and giving their thumb print they were given a canvas bag with cooking utensils, pots, buckets, plates, cups, and kettles. They also received a foam mattress, a quilt and a large pillow. Everyone was very grateful for these very useful items. We did this in three places for a total of 300 families being assisted and it all ran very smoothly. We were able to have prayer at each location. We were joined by a few of the Bishops of other denominations and even a Muslim leader came and shared a few words at one of them. We also had the MPA (Member of Provincial Assembly) for the Peshawar area Prince Javed participate in one of the distributions. We are expecting to help at least 3,000 families in this area alone.
After a long day of passing out relief goods we went into Peshawar to spend the night at a guest house. Peshawar was not at all what I expected. It’s really a very large and modern place.
On Sunday morning we did some additional assessments at some of the areas affected by the flood waters. We visited some families whose small mud homes were missing walls and parts of the roof. One home had a large hole in a small bedroom where a woman was in mud up to her neck and had to be pulled out by a few men. They were already working on rebuilding some of the mud walls and in some cases they will use some bricks. It’s not that much stronger, since they don’t use cement with the bricks – only mud. One little boy in this area was holding a 9 mm pistol which he seemed to keep at his side, somewhat hidden. I wasn’t sure if it was real or a toy, but being an American in Peshawar I felt my heart race a bit. I called him and some other boys near to me for a picture. It’s hard to imagine the affect that all of this is going to have on the children. My heart was aching for each of them.
The really disturbing place that we visited was a village called Azhakhel, which as it turns out was an Afghan Refugee Camp. As I looked at the map it appears this place is right at the bend in the river. Another village just to the west is called Pabbi and they were hit just as hard. As far as we could see in either direction was total destruction. Villagers told us that there were around 15,000 families in these places, but we couldn’t verify that.
The work of recovery and rebuilding here in Pakistan will take years. They were already so far behind, but this will just send them back even further. I wish I could rely on the generous gifts from around the world to give what is necessary, but considering how Pakistan has become alienated from so many I don’t see that happening. I wish more people could see the Pakistan that I have come to see in the last six months. I’m certain they would give more.”
If you would like to support The Salvation Army’s relief efforts in Pakistan, you can donate by clicking here.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
The Salvation Army in Pakistan continued its initial response to the floods that have are now thought to have affected 20 million people by distributing bedding and cooking utensil packs to 300 families in Charsada. An assessment team visited Charsada a week earlier and discovered that the floods had devastated the town, wrecking homes and businesses.
The distribution team included Lieut-Colonel Yousaf Ghulam (Chief Secretary of the Salvation Army’s Pakistan Territory) and Lieut-Colonel Rebecca Yousaf (Territorial Secretary for Women’s Ministries).
The first distribution, to 100 families, took place at Charsada Bible Church. Lieut-Colonel Ghulam spoke to community members, offering sympathy.
The Bishop of Peshawar arrived during the distribution and thanked The Salvation Army for its work. Members of the local media were also present and asked many questions about The Salvation Army.
The next distribution was in a hujra (an annex to a main building) in Charsada for two hundred Muslim families. There was a large crowd of people already gathered when the team arrived but the proceedings went smoothly. The chief secretary gave a short message for the community and the bishop offered words of comfort. Local Member of the Provincial Assembly (MPA) Mr Javed Prince added a few words of sympathy for the community.
One of the recipients in Charsada was Noor Ali, a student. He told the Salvation Army team that his family fled their home when the waters began to rise. When they returned home the house was full of water.
He said: ‘We are determined to face this big challenge. We will do hard work to reconstruct our houses. At the moment we are having problems but we are brave and we can fight.’
Imran Azm, a policeman who works in Peshawar, collected supplies for his parents. He told team members that he is determined to provide for his family.
Both Noor and Imran expressed their gratitude for what they described as a ‘token of love’ given by The Salvation Army.
The next day, the team visited Academy Town Corps (Salvation Army church) to meet affected families. Assessment visits were also made to Nowshera, Pabi, Jahangia and Aza khail, all communities near the River Kabul.
In Aza khail the team saw people in desperate need. The community of around 15,000 people was near to the river and its houses were washed away. The people who remain explained that many bodies have yet to be found because they were swept away by the flood or buried under rubble.
The community members asked for tents to provide shelter. The Salvation Army is putting together funds so it can look to buy a large number of tents that will begin to address some of the people’s most urgent needs.
Friday, August 6, 2010
The Salvation Army continues to respond to the dire situation in Pakistan as communities recover from the destructive floods. Our teams are assessing the damage and working with the government and locals to learn how we can be of greatest support.
A donkey cart plods through flooded streets.
Captain Washington Daniel, the Salvation Army’s District Officer for Islamabad, went to Peshawar to assess the situation and reported:
“ Most houses are damaged badly or have fallen down completely due to the flood water. River water came into many houses, rising to above six feet in some places. People are looking for shelter, going to relatives’ houses or to churches.
People are feeling hopeless. The Government and other non-government agencies (NGOs) have not properly visited them, helped them or prayed with them. They said that people from The Salvation Army are the first to visit and pray with them.
In some areas there is still standing water and people are afraid to go back to see their homes. Their houses and what they owned is mixed with mud. The buildings and houses are cracked and not suitable for living in.”
Salvation Army personnel pray with flood survivors.
The Salvation Army’s Divisional Commander from Islamabad sent the following update regarding their aid efforts:
“We met with the bishop of Peshawar’s team and they welcomed us, very thankful for The Salvation Army visit and our cooperation. In this meeting we discussed how we can manage and to start to help these people who have lost so much because of the flood.
They gave us a list of people in different areas in order to avoid duplication in distribution of assistance. I marked utensils (pots, pans, dishes) quilts, pillows, foam mattresses and gas cylinder burners that The Salvation Army will attempt to provide. We have identified 3000 families in need of assistance from the list we were given.
Our team also met with MPA Javid Prince and he showed his full support in all matter from government. For purchasing all goods, I propose we buy from Peshawar to save the transportation expense, because road conditions from Lahore to these areas are not good and for security, safety and for storage where we want to distribute we have no place.”
The first batch of relief aid to go up to the affected areas – essential goods bought with the initial funding – is being put together and will be sent as soon as it is ready to go.
If you’d like to support The Salvation Army’s relief efforts in Pakistan:
* visit our secure online donation page at https://secure.salvationarmy.org/.
* or mail a check or money to:
The Salvation Army World Service Office
International Disaster Relief Fund
PO Box 630728
Baltimore, MD 21263-0728
*Please note that your donation is for Pakistan*
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
The Salvation Army in Pakistan is preparing to help people who have lost their homes, possessions and possibly even loved ones in the worst floods in 80 years. The raging waters caused by monsoons have devastated many areas, especially in the northwest. It is thought that more than 1,400 people lost their lives in flooding which left 25,000 more trapped and awaiting rescue. More than a million people are thought to be homeless.
News coverage with video can be found here at BBC.com: Pakistan floods: Rescuers Aim to meet Stranded Victims
A letter posted on The Salvation Army Pakistan’s website reads:
“The government of Pakistan is looking for help from the NGO’s to assist with relief efforts. Our people have been doing some initial assessments and will continue gathering information on the work we will be able to do. We will also coordinate with government officials to fit in with providing assistance where it is needed and not duplicating a lot of services.
The DC (Divisional Commander) in Islamabad and the Corps Officers (Salvation Army leaders/pastors) from Peshawar have identified at least 3,000 families in the areas of Peshawar, Charsada, Noshera, Jhanghira, Tar Nab, and Rasalpur. They are in dire need of food, cooking/eating utensils, and bedding materials.”
Photos courtesy of The Salvation Army Pakistan’s website
The Salvation Army Pakistan has expressed their gratitude for prayers and practical support as they ready to serve these communities. The Salvation Army began its work in Pakistan in Lahore 1883 with Captain Victoria Roberts and a few other officers. Our organization has been living and serving in the communities ever since.
Visit The Salvation Army Pakistan’s website HERE to learn more information or donate to their relief efforts.
Monday, August 2, 2010
The Salvation Army in Lubbock, TX has a brand new piece of equipment called the Rapid Response Unit that will help feed more people and boost efficiency. It’s not only the first of its kind, it’s also the only of its kind – no other Salvation Army in the nation has one yet!
According to their Facebook page, The Salvation Army of Lubbock says the Rapid Response Unit is small enough to fit in a truck bed or trailer and will expand their reach to 150 miles beyond the service area of Salvation Army canteens, larger mobile kitchens also used to serve food and drinks during emergencies.
The Rapid Response Unit was designed for on-the-street feedings and can hold up to 12 food trays, ice chests, drink containers, has plenty of room for storage and can be operated by one person. Salvation Army personnel are excited about serving the community with this versatile new equipment!
Check out a story on the Rapid Response Unit run by local news station FOX 34 here: Local Salvation Army reveals new, innovative equipment
Find more information about this and services offered by The Salvation Army Lubbock on their Facebook page or visit their website at http://www.salvationarmytexas.org/.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Since responding to the massive earthquake that jarred Haiti six months ago, The Salvation Army continues work side by side the recovering communities. We have transitioned from focusing on the provision of immediate needs, including temporary shelter, food, water and medical aid, to providing for long-term needs that will help survivors get back to a level of normalcy in their lives.
And today, in an exciting step for many displaced Haitians, we’ve completed construction of 600 long-term intermediary housing shelters in Jacmel to help relocate those displaced by the earthquake back to their home communities.
Our Transitional Shelter Program has been a great way to empower Haitians during this reconstruction process. In a nation where more than 2/3 of the labor force is unemployed, more than 400 Haitians have been hired as carpenters and construction crew-members to assist in reconstruction efforts and be actively involved with reestablishing their communities.
The shelters house on average five people and last several years. With Haiti in the midst of its rainy season, their design will also enable them to withstand strong winds as well as drain water away from the structure, helping to reduce the spread of water-borne illnesses.
Now that hundreds of shelters have been built in Jacmel, The Salvation Army will work with Haitian government officials to plan the development of another 1,000-1,500 homes in the northern coastal community of Petit-Goâve, which was severely damaged by a strong earthquake aftershock in January.
We are excited by the steps being taken by Haitians and the The Salvation Army to help the country heal and emerge from this disaster stronger than before! As The Salvation Army’s Lt. Col. Dan Starrett stated, “These homes are the first steps of many in that direction.”
If you’d like to support our ongoing work in the country, you can give via www.salvationarmyusa.org, 1-800-SAL-ARMY and text messaging “HAITI” to 52000 with confirming “Yes.”
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
As South Texas communities brace themselves for the effects of Hurricane Alex, The Salvation Army is already providing shelter and food to people in preparation for the first hurricane of the season.
Yesterday The Salvation Army opened the doors of its shelter in McAllen, TX to residents evacuating ahead of the storm. They housed 73 people, of which 23 were evacuees, and served 140 meals. They continue to remain on stand-by in case additional help is needed at any of the area designated shelters.
Mobile feeding units called canteens are in place and ready to serve in the southern Texas cities of Corpus Christi, Harlingen, McAllen and Laredo, Texas. Several more canteens are staged in San Antonio with staff and volunteers. The Salvation Army mobile kitchen, capable of preparing 20,000 meals daily, and generator have been made available and are ready for deployment if necessary. The Salvation Army will also provide clean-up kits if excessive flooding results from Hurricane Alex.
“The Salvation Army is anticipating several days of sheltering and mass feeding along the Gulf Coast area”, said Major Terry Israel, Divisional Secretary in Texas.“ These services will be available at least through Friday, and as long as the need exists.”
For more information about The Salvation Army emergency disaster services program or to support The Salvation Army’s emergency relief efforts, please visit www.disaster.salvationarmyusa.org or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY. For the latest updates on Salvation Army disaster activities, follow our Disaster Services team on Twitter @SalArmyEDS.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
News of Haiti’s ongoing recovery has slipped from the headlines, but the country’s need has not disappeared. Despite this drop in media attention, The Salvation Army and volunteers continue to devote countless man hours to serving earthquake survivors.
Just this past weekend hundreds of individuals from Kalamazoo, MI and the surrounding area gathered at an old Sam’s Club warehouse where they packaged 620,784 meals for Haiti over a period of two days. The event was hosted by hunger relief organization Numana, Inc. and The Salvation Army. A photo run by the Kalamazoo Gazette showed a grown man and a four year-old boy working together in the assembly-line style packing process. Though the picture may at first appear unremarkable, the sharp contrast of this seemingly mismatched pair captures the unique sense of unity and passion to help that bonds an otherwise diverse group of volunteers. Kalamazoo proved to have a great turn out of helping hands!
You would expect with it being more than five months following the earthquake, public interest would fade. But Numana hosts widely-attended meal packing events like the one in Kalamazoo every week across the country in order that The Salvation Army will have a continuous supply of food to distribute to Haitian survivors. Actually, three separate events will be taking place this weekend in Kansas, Wisconsin, and Arkansas, with Arkansas attempting to set a record of packing 2 million meals during a first-ever 24 consecutive hour event! It actually seems like the public’s desire to help is gaining steam.
Numana founder Rick McNary told the Kalamazoo Gazette that in the five months since the earthquake more than 18 million meals have been packaged for Haiti through Numana’s partnership with The Salvation Army and volunteers across the country!
The Salvation Army is incredibly thankful for the help of Numana and all the compassionate volunteers who continue to diligently give their time, efforts, and resources for those in need in Haiti, even after the overwhelming need no longer makes news headlines!
For more information about The Salvation Army in Kalamazoo, visit their website at www.tsakalamazoo.org or find them on Facebook.
You can also learn more about Numana, Inc. through their website www.numanainc.com.
Monday, June 14, 2010
The Salvation Army is responding to the scene of deadly flashfloods that struck Western Arkansas last Thursday and Friday. Many campers at Albert Pike Recreational Campgrounds were caught off-guard by the storm, which has caused a reported 20 fatalities. Rescue operations continue.
The Salvation Army was called to the scene to provide food, water and emotional and spiritual support to first responders and survivors. Our incident command center has been established in Langley, Arkansas, and Salvation Army response teams have been assembled with crews from the Little Rock, Fort Smith, and Hot Springs areas, with more on standby.
To help support our relief efforts and assist individuals and families affected by the floods, you can donate by visiting www.salvationarmyusa.org or calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY. Please designate your contributions to “Arkansas flood.”
Thank you for your prayers and support for these individuals and families who have suffered so greatly during what was meant to be a weekend of recreation.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
SALVATION Army emergency response teams in Guatemala are providing assistance after the country was hit by two major disasters within 10 days.
A state of emergency was declared after the eruption of the Pacaya Volcano – about 15 miles south of the capital, Guatemala City. A television journalist was killed in the eruption and the international airport had to be closed. Some 1,600 people were evacuated from the slopes of the volcano and two to three inches of ash built up on streets in some southern parts of the capital.
Dots mark the path of Tropical Storm Agatha
While the country was struggling to deal with the aftermath of the eruption, Tropical Storm Agatha moved across central America, bringing devastation on a huge scale. Of the 150 people known to have been killed in the region, more than 120 were from Guatemala. These numbers may rise.
Some communities were cut off by floods and mudslides, and the ash clean-up operation was badly affected. At one point a Salvation Army team was stranded after a landslide blocked the roads to a community where it was providing assistance.
Almost 112,000 people were evacuated from their homes across Guatemala and around 30,000 had to seek temporary accommodation in emergency shelters.
The local authorities set up a campaign to provide support and The Salvation Army played its part, delivering coffee and warm meals. Salvation Army officers (church ministers) coordinated the response and other Salvationists worked as volunteers.
The first assistance provided by The Salvation Army was at San Vicente, in response to the volcanic eruption. The number of people seeking help increased because of the storm and support is being given at shelters in Tierra Nueva.