Tag Archive for 'Disaster'Page 2 of 2

Back from Disaster Area…

I don’t want to talk about what I saw now – at least not yet. That’s why I didn’t write a Day 3 entry. There are things I’ve never seen (and smelled) before.

I’m also in a bit of shock still I guess. But, not all of it was disaster related – some of it was just junk that went on there that ruffled my feathers a bit too much.

Anyways I’m here, safe, and cleaned up. And being able to actually see my own reflection in a mirror is nice. We didn’t have wall mirrors in basecamp.

Disaster Area – Day 2: Life at Basecamp and the Beginning of Donations

Overwhelmed and burnt out – that’s all I can say about this. Everywhere I look I see destroyed homes and destroyed lives.

I interview a girl today – she lost her mom to the storm. She spoke of it like I was asking her for her mailing address – no emotion. I spoke to a father today. He told me how he tried to clutch his little child to his chest during the floods that came with the cyclone – but his grip slipped. He doesn’t even have a body to bury – he lost her. Just like the girl without a mom, this father who lost a child had no tears. Just shock. No emotion. I don’t need to be told what that feels like – I’m feeling that now.

I also feel helpless. I gave 30 blankets in an aid mission today. 30 wasn’t enough. We had come to a small spot along a river and pulled up. There were more people than blankets to give away – when we tried to leave, people stormed the boat and jumped onto it. 30 blankets is not enough for an aid mission of course. We had given tons of food, rice, and water along with it (supplied by Muslim Aid and Global Medic). But, no matter how much we have – it’s never enough. Never.

I have a lot of footage and photos today – but Rahul (the guy you don’t mess with) ordered lights out in 5 minutes. Gotta run. Gotta rest.

(Disclaimer: Tagging along with Global Medic and Muslim Aid in no way implies support or endorsement of The Uncultured Project, me, or my views. The views expressed are my own and do not reflect Global Medic, The David McAntony Gibson Foundation, Muslim Aid, or any other NGO or charity. I am not under the employment or contract of any of these organizations.)

Disaster Area – Day 1: The Drive In

“Why are they waving at the car?” I naively asked the driver who was taking me to basecamp in Bagarat. “Their homes have been destroyed – they are asking us to stop and help,” the driver somberly replied. It was then that it sank in – I was in a disaster area. The tipping point for me – the point when shock turned to tears, was when we drove by a school. The school kids yelled – in English – “STOP! STOP! STOP!”. But we just kept driving – even if we could have helped them, we would have been mobbed if we stopped.

I also never expected to have trouble taking photographs. For the first time, I was no longer greeted with inquisitive and happy looks. I was snarled at – one person even hissed. “Don’t take my photo!” one yelled. “Don’t take photos – give us something instead!”, “You only come to take photos – not to help”….

Here are some of the few photos I managed to take today – after the jump. Continue reading ‘Disaster Area – Day 1: The Drive In’

Field Report – On the Way to Disaster Area

The Uncultured Project – Diaster Relief Items

I came to Bangladesh with no training and no aid or development experience. My only real assets are my enthusiasm and my compulsion to try and make a difference. Here’s where things are for me now: I have things to give away, but am trying to find a way to get them to those who need it the most:
Uncultured Project Cyclone Relief

  • A) LifeStraws – portable water purification straws capable of filtering deadly bacteria from any surface water source. Estimated lifetime: 1 year on average use. Number of items: 45 (used to be 50). Donated to me by Vestergaard Frandsen.
  • B) ZeroFly – long-lasting insecticide treated sheets. Can be used as roofing for low income housing. It is water proof and it’s insecticide is the same used in insecticide treated mosquito nets (safe for humans). If a mosquito comes into contact with the roof – it will die. Helps protect against malaria during the night and Dengue Fever during the day. Estimated lifetime: 2 years for the insecticide, but the sheets themselves remain waterproof forever. Number of items: 25. Donated to me by Vestergaard Frandsen.
  • C) Blankets – locally made, locally purchased. I count that as a two-fold impact because the money goes into the local economy. Number of items: 70. The cost to me was 14,000 taka or over $200 USD.
  • D) Water Bottles – ever since I met “Mo” (featured in Episode Three of my YouTube videos), I now know the importance of water bottles in this country. Especially now, water bottles can be used to store purified or boiled water. It can also be given in bulk to an individual because – for many industrious people like Mo – these items are as good as cash.

Not visible but also part of my equipment to give away:

  • Two hand-cranked LED-based flashlights – brought from Canada.
  • One remaining long-lasting, insecticide treated mosquito net. Donated to me by Vestergaard Frandsen.

I tried distributing items myself and that really only works out when you know the people in the area and can get to an area yourself. When I distributed 50 mosquito nets, I was shocked and angered to find that some rich people (i.e. they own a car, a brick house, and even have servants) came and pretended to be poor to get a free net! They essentially robbed from the poor to help themselves. I only found out a month or so later – when a resident familiar with the area was looking over my footage. Even I gave out water bottles during the floods – I was kind of sad that the 4×4 I was in couldn’t head deeper into the flood zone.

I really do need to partner with an NGO of some kind to make a meaningful difference. The problem is most NGOs laugh when they are talking about such low quantities. “Fifty water purification straws? Ha!” “70 blankets? LOL.” has been pretty much the reaction I have been getting. I know NGOs deal in massive quantities – but the way I see it, these 50 items could save fifty lives and 70 blankets could keep 70 families warm. I’m not capable of saving lives in bulk. But so far, finding a like-minded NGO has been hard – although I am still making inquiries. But I definitely feel the clock ticking on this one.