EARTH STEWARDS


VOLUNTEER MISSION Reports

A Review of Limited Source Initiatives:

  1. B.C. home builders off to Sri Lanka
  2. 12-man RP team off to Sri Lanka on New Year's Day
  3. Doctors heading to Sri Lanka as part of Kaiser's effort to help
  4. Farmer offers hands-on help

1. B.C. HOME BUILDERS OFF TO SRI LANKA
by Glenn Bohn, Vancouver Sun, 4th November 2006

Volunteers to help with construction of 200 homes for tsunami survivors still living in temporary shelters

Three B.C. residents who know how to build houses are travelling today to a tsunami-devastated Sri Lanka, where people having been living in tents and other temporary shelters for almost two years.

One of the Builders Without Borders volunteers is Julia Armstrong, who teaches woodworking skills to women from her shop in the Okanagan town of Enderby.

The 53-year-old woman started working with her dad on construction sites when she was 12. Armstrong then shared her building skills with her daughter when they built their two-storey cottage.

In 2000 Armstrong went to Turkey to teach women there how to use power tools. And now for the next seven weeks she'll be teaching and working alongside two other veteran B.C. builders who have also submitted impressive resumes for a volunteer job.

The three tradespeople will each be paid a $100-a-week honorarium, a less than minimum wage salary at a time when the construction boom in B.C. is forcing employers to boost the wages they offer to people with trade skills.

Armstrong said Friday she volunteered to work in Sri Lanka for the same reason she volunteered to work in Turkey.

"It boils down to what I feel is one of my basic purposes in life." she said during an interview Friday, when she was still in Vancouver.

"I always wanted to empower women by getting them to use tools. Turkey fulfilled that dream. Now I feel that one of my purposes is not just to help women, but men as well, to become empowered by using tools and building their own structures to live in."

Builders Without Borders and World Vision International are partners in a $1.5 million construction project. Its goal is the construction of 200 new houses. These four-room structures will replace the tents and temporary shelters that have already been built for tsunami survivors.

Brendon Farrell, 49, a carpenter who designed a federal government-funded job skills program for aboriginals in Vancouver, is leaving behind a half-finished renovation job in his West Vancouver home.

"After 28 years in construction, I find myself at a juncture with many possibilities," Farrell wrote when he applied for the low-paying job in the hot equatorial sun.

Farrell noted that he and his wife worked long hours when their daughters were children, and didn't have time to do volunteer work for the charities they supported with cash donations. "For us, a working assignment is preferable to a stint on the beach with our back to the poverty we know is there," he wrote.

Mark Grimm, 46, a mason and plasterer who lives in Celista on Shuswap Lake, said he volunteered because some construction techniques used in Canada can be adapted and applied in developing nations.

"It's going to make huge inroads and help people achieve affordable housing in their communities," he said.

Builders Without Borders president Neil Griggs said the volunteers will work on the east coast of Sri Lanka, in a low-lying rural area. The earthquake-triggered tsunami slammed into Sri Lanka and other Asian nations on Dec. 26, 2004. On the east coast of Sri Lanka giant waves flattened entire villages within 300 metres of the shore.

Griggs said 80,000 homes were destroyed in Sri Lanka but, almost two years after the disaster, only one home in five has been replaced.


2. 12-MAN RP TEAM OFF TO SRI LANKA
Global Nation, 31st December, 2004, Philippines
By Veronica Uy

A 12-MAN team of doctors, nurses, and sanitary engineers is off to Sri Lanka Saturday, New Year's Day, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo and Health Secretary Manuel Dayrit announced at a press conference on Friday.

Dayrit said the team, which will stay in Sri Lanka "to provide medical assistance to victims and coordinate with other teams in the area," is led by Dr. Romeo Almazan Bituin, and is composed of Drs. Joseph Espinosa, Vilma dela Cruz, Luis Juan Arroyo, and Mike Lao.

Other members of the team are Aida Cuadra, Maria Ivy Ocampo, Oliver Maat, Ruth Badic, Venus Cariño, and engineers Rodel Pineda and Joselito Riego de Dios. The health secretary said health department team, which comes from various hospitals and local government units, will be deployed for 10 to 15 days.

He added that the Sri Lanka team members are disaster and trauma specialists who have been deployed to Iraq and to Quezon province during relief operations there after the area was ravaged by a series of storms last month.

Dayrit also added that a 10-man contingent is also being readied for deployment to Indonesia early next week, also for a period of 10 to 15 days.

He said the deployment is part of the Philippine government's humanitarian commitment to Indonesia.

The Indonesia-bound team is composed of Drs. Sukarno Asri, Waldo Mandai, Sangkula Laja, and Falmi Usman. Other members are Julie Villadolid, Joseph Quiling, Raffy Tuloganan, Andrew Mar Vergara, Kamarudin Kunakon, and Jerry Porras

"The medical-civic team bound for Indonesia is already organized and ready to be deployed anytime," Dayrit said, adding that he was awaiting guidance from the Indonesian ambassador.

Romulo said: "The Philippines joins the world in helping alleviate the suffering of this catastrophe that has affected more lives that we could even begin to count. As we thanked the international community for coming to the aid of the Philippines when Luzon was recently hit with typhoons, the Filipinos are pleased to assist the countries reeling from this monumental disaster."

Following the presentation of the members of the medical team, Sri Lanka's Ambassador to the Philippines, Ariya Bandara Rekawa, conveyed the heartfelt gratitude of the Sri Lankan government and people.

"We are very thankful to the Philippines for sending a team to help the disaster victims in our country," he said.


3. DOCTORS HEADING TO SRI LANKA
as part of Kaiser's effort to help

Sabin Russell, Chronicle Medical Writer, Wednesday, January 12, 2005

A pair of Kaiser Permanente physicians is jetting off to Sri Lanka today, the vanguard of what promises to be dozens of doctor volunteers who will attempt to help the island nation recover from the disastrous tsunami that killed 30,000 there.

Dr. Vaji Dharmasena, a Sri Lankan-born obstetrician-gynecologist at Kaiser's Santa Teresa Medical Center in San Jose, and Dr. Hernando Garson, an emergency room specialist from Sacramento, will be scouting out medical needs in hard-hit coastal towns and inland communities that have sprouted refugee camps for newly homeless tsunami survivors.

"This is just the beginning of Kaiser Permanente's efforts,'' said Dr. Robert Pearl, chief executive of the medical group, at an Oakland press conference, "we'll be sending teams based on the need and their expertise.'' Kaiser has already donated $1 million in cash to a variety of relief agencies.

Throughout southern Asia, an estimated 150,000 people died when a magnitude 9.0 earthquake off the coast of Sumatra generated waves that swept across the Indian Ocean, killing tourists, fisherman and coastal dwellers from Indonesia to Somalia.

More than 200 doctors from the Northern California medical group have volunteered to spend time in the disaster zone. Throughout the year, Kaiser expects to send from 50 to 100 doctors, who will rotate in shifts of two weeks to one month.

Kaiser is underwriting the cost of travel and accommodation for the physicians, as well as donating medical supplies and the doctors' time. There are about 5,000 doctors in the Northern California medical group, so Pearl said there would be minimal impact locally while the physicians were away.

Teams of two to six physicians will rotate in and out of Sri Lanka for 14- day tours of duty. In addition, infectious disease specialists will be dispatched for month-long stints to Banda Aceh, in the hard-hit northern province of Indonesia, where more than 100,000 are believed to have perished.

Dharmasena's parents still live in Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka. None of her immediate family was hurt in the disaster, which was confined to eastern and southern coastal communities, but in this small nation the impact of the tragedy is universal. "Everyone in my family knows someone who died, who lost their home or lost their business,'' she said. Her own children have also spent time in Sri Lanka, playing on beaches where entire families were swept to their deaths when the tsunami arrived.

Garzon is a veteran of the Sacramento-based Urban Search and Rescue Team. He was among the first dispatched to Oklahoma City after the bombing of the federal building there in 1995 and to the site of the World Trade Center after Sept. 11.

"We'll be going over there with duffel bags of medical gear,'' he said.

Health concerns in the affected areas range from treating broken bones and cuts of those who lived through the horrifying events of Dec. 26, as well as preventing outbreaks of disease such as measles, cholera and malaria that can accompany a disaster of this magnitude.

Dr. David Witt, chief of infectious diseases for Kaiser's Northern California region, will leave next week with two other Kaiser doctors for Banda Aceh, where they will link up with a British organization, MENTOR, to train survivors in malaria control.

"We've seen a breakdown of basic malaria control there,'' said Witt, "Mosquito abatement has vanished. The public health agencies are dead. Their sprays are washed away.''


4. FARMER OFFERS HANDS-ON HELP
Cambridge Evening News, 15th May 2006

A FARMER is off to Sri Lanka to help build new homes for victims of the Asian Tsunami.

William Barlow, of Old Church Lane, Colne, will be working with a team from Habitat for Humanity in Hikkaduwa.

The 55-year-old said: "I kept seeing items on the television about the Tsunami and thought I better do something."

Mr Barlow, a member of St Helen's Church in Colne, has raised more than £4,500 for the project.

He threw a party in the village hall, held an Easter raffle and a coffee morning and hosted a golf day in St Ives which raised more than £1,000 alone. Plus he received donations from residents and businesses in the area.

He said: "People have been brilliant and incredibly generous."

Mr Barlow flies to Sri Lanka on Saturday for a week and he will be helped by the families who will live in the homes.

He said: "It is great the families will actually work with us. I am a practical person and even helped build my own house more than 30 years ago so I should be useful."

Within three weeks of the disaster, Habitat for Humanity had started building new homes in Galle, on the southern coast, and Batticaloa, on the east, with Tsunami-affected families.

Return to EARTH STEWARDS INDEX Page

Counter Your use of this site is subject to
Terms and Conditions of Use
See also our
Privacy Policy