“Life Changing” Work in Nepal

by Anne Reynolds

Anne was deployed as part of a joint American Red Cross/Danish Emergency Relief Unit to help support distribution of cash and relief items following the earthquake in Nepal. 

Nepal has always been a place that I wanted to visit, but until now I had never made the trip. Like most Red Crossers, when I saw the devastation following the earthquakes, I felt the strong desire to help. Thankfully, I have the great privilege to make that desire reality as an American Red Cross International Disaster Services Roster Member.

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(Pictured: Anne with some of the recipients of Red Cross distributions.)

I deployed to Nepal on June 21, and after a few days in Kathmandu, I headed out to the Makwanpur District. Makwanpur is located just 1.5 hours from the border with India, and encompasses very diverse topography. The area ranges in altitude from just over 500 feet above sea level to over 8,000 feet above sea level. There are a number of rivers running through the district and the roads in and around the area can be quite treacherous. Inevitably there is always a section of the winding, narrow, switch-back road that has experienced at least a small landslide. The blind curves cause the drivers to honk constantly, and we are always on alert. No Sunday driving here!

The district headquarters, Hetauda, is a small but bustling city, and I have been working primarily from the Nepal Red Cross Chapter headquarters here. The local Red Cross staff is simply amazing! Our goal is to reach 2,000 households with full NFRI kits, cash and hygiene kits. In the 15 days I have been here, we have managed to meet with the local government officials for all the areas where distributions will occur, coordinate and agree on beneficiary lists, conduct a 10 percent audit to ensure we are reaching the most impacted areas, secure distribution sites, conduct distribution training for 25 local staff, and successfully complete two distributions in which 380 beneficiaries were served. Beneficiaries have been so happy to receive items, and we have experienced no negative responses. The staff is proud of their accomplishments, and they are feeling confident about their ability to establish distribution sites and conduct distributions. This week, we are moving to a municipality known as Thaha, and will provide items and cash to over 1,500 more households. The local staff has really got the system down, and we are confident we can reach over 300 beneficiaries per day.

My experience in Makwanpur has been truly exceptional. I have been fully embraced by my Nepal Red Cross family, and they have shown me nothing but kindness, generosity and appreciation since the day I arrived.  I had always heard about the kindness of the Nepali people, and I can now say firsthand it is so very true. I feel like I have really been “living” here in Nepal, not just visiting. The work has been hard, the days tiring, but I have enjoyed great friendship, and Nepalese food, daily. I have replaced my daily coffee routine with my new favorite – milk tea! It is a special blend made here in town, and my friends here ask me all day long if I want more. I must admit, I say yes probably too often.

Words cannot accurately describe the special place Nepal and my new family in Makwanpur will forever hold in my heart. This has not been just a mission for me, but rather a life-changing experience for which I will be eternally grateful.

– See more at: http://redcrosschat.org/2015/07/23/life-changing-work-nepal/#sthash.kunLTOgO.WEhoLFiE.dpuf

Hillview, IL Flooded After Levy Breach

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Hillview, Illinois, population 50, flooded when Hurricane Creek breached the levy protecting the small community.  As rescuers picked up five people by boat, water to the town was shut off. Residents needed assistance.

Although a very small community, volunteers with the American Red Cross traveled to Hillview to provide dinner for those affected by the floods.  Thanks to Brother Jason of Hillview Southern Baptist Church, residents had a dry spot to rest and eat hot meals provided by the Red Cross. Our volunteers also supplied drinking water.

“The people of Hillview know the American Red Cross is there for them when they need them the most,” said Hillview Mayor Arthur Long.

Mayor Long, says their town has had a long-standing relationship with the American Red Cross dating back to 1993.  “I know the people of Hillview are thankful for the Red Cross being here tonight, just like they were in 1993,” said Long.

A dozen people made their way through the flood waters to the church for a warm meal, something to drink and companionship.

Together As One: Red Cross Volunteers Represent in the V.P. Parade in Forest Park

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Written, filmed, and edited By: Christina Cody, Communications Intern

American Red Cross volunteers and employees came together on July 4th to not only celebrate the birth of our country, but to also proudly represent one of the nation’s biggest humanitarian organizations, and represent they did! The Veiled Prophet parade took place early Saturday morning inside Forest Park. Band members, street performers, pageant winners, and volunteers all marched from the upper Muny to the St. Louis Zoo. The energy was strong and flags were high as parade goers marched with pride as the crowd cheered with joy. It was a great day of entertainment for the entire family. The Red Cross volunteers sure know how to show up and show out, and hopefully next year we’ll see some new faces!

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The American Red Cross Honors Veterans of the Armed Forces

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This year The American Red Cross decided the there’s no better way to show our patriotism for the red, white, and blue than to honor our veterans with an American classic, barbecue. The event was held at Truman Hospital in Columbia, Missouri June 23rd. McNairy sponsored the event by providing meat and volunteers. Another barbecue event was held on July 4th at Jefferson Barracks Cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri. If you missed either of these two events and would like to come out to show support there’s still time. The last event will be at John J Pershing VA Medical Center in Poplar Bluff, Missouri July 24th as part of The American Red Cross Christmas in July!

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Train the Trainers

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Every now and then it’s a good idea to brush up on preparedness skills and learn new ones. The need for these skills could arise at any moment so staying sharp is vital for trainees and trainers. The “Train the Trainers” class was held on Thursday, July 25th at the Greater St. Louis Chapter for volunteers and Community Volunteer Leaders.

A Community Volunteer Leader (CVL) is a single point of contact for a community with the primary goal of developing, building and expanding the presence of the Red Cross in a given area. CVL’s are leaders in the community.  While CVL’s may be current Red Cross volunteers, the goal is to expand and focus efforts on growing our volunteer base. The CVL support is tailored to the communities they serve and aligned with regional objectives.

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Roy Gillespie, CVL for the Greater St. Louis Chapter Area, worked with local mayors in North County, including State Representative Tommie L. Pierson, to recruit volunteers for the Home Fire Preparedness Campaign. The Home Fire Preparedness Campaign aims to save lives, reduce injuries and build more resilient communities through raising awareness, facilitating preventative actions, and fostering community participation. The national goal is a 25% reduction in home fire deaths and injuries in the next five years.

Local mayors selected staff members to take a “Train the Trainers” session, presented by Nicole Hawkins.  The group included one North County fire chief, 5 police officers, and several public work directors and employees. They participated in the training to learn how to install smoke alarms and provide fire prevention information.

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Times of Crisis: A Volunteer’s Perspective

Albert Broucher, a volunteer at American Red Cross' St. Louis Chapter, journals his days in Houston, Texas.

Albert Broucher, a volunteer at American Red Cross’ St. Louis Chapter, journals his days in Houston, Texas.

Day 12: Rain drops keep falling on my head 

Tropical Storm Bill is bringing a bucket full of rain down on my head, and me with no umbrella. You are probably seeing the reports on TV about “Bill”. The real problem is the ground is already saturated and there is no place for the water to go except into the flood plains.

The good news is; I have a flight confirmed for 2:45 PM tomorrow. The bad news is; with “Bill” coming in , the airport may be closed. Well time to go to work.

Until next time………..May God bless and keep you all.