Last night Monday 2nd October our Keynote speaker was Craig Roberts President of Newton le Willows Rotary, and a Trustee of Disaster Aid UK and Ireland.
Craig gave us an insight into his recent visits on behalf of Disaster Aid, into the February earthquakes in Türkiye.
Like many other Humanitarian organisations Disaster Aid collaborates and works with both local and international organisations, governments, and other NGOs to maximise the impact of their relief and recovery
Disaster Aid UK’s primary mission is to alleviate the suffering of disaster-affected communities by providing essential aid and support. Their objectives include delivering emergency relief and helping with the long-term recovery efforts like providing education and training to communities to build resilience against future disasters.
Like many humanitarian organizations, Disaster Aid UK, Disaster Aid sent two experienced DART members; Craig and Steve to the Samandağ area of Türkiye and they are now safely home
On arrival, they toured the area with Rotary District Governor Emre Ozturk to understand the current situation and the local Rotary response.
In the immediate post-earthquake phase, Rotary had supplied tents, hot meals, and medical support to victims, before constructing a number of container cities in co-operation with local government officials. These include security, power, water, medical care, and a school. Each container is fully equipped for four people.
Concluding that these sites were well-funded and managed, Craig and Steve widened their search for suitable projects in conjunction with local Rotarians, UN Shelter Cluster referrals, Community Co-ordinators and a Samandağ Rotaract member, the sole remaining Rotary person in the city.
They homed in on informal tent settlements in the city of Samandağ, population 100,000, which had received limited support other than tents and food. Largely populated by Shia Arab Muslims, a minority group in Türkiye, along with its location at the end of a peninsula, meant that the town had been under-served by the government and NGOs. This was a typical target for Disaster Aid, going where other NGOs have not.
The team trialled a ‘voucher scheme’ in Iskenderun, enabling ladies from the camp to procure summer clothes for the children of their camp.
They identified eight informal camps and ascertained their needs which were sourced locally and delivered to the camps. This included kitchen equipment, a generator, clothing, nappies, mattresses and children’s books and toys.
Their country partners; Disaster Aid Europe, agreed to supply three Ujeta water filters which we were unable to source locally. This assisted, amongst others, an expectant mother to safely prepare baby formula. Training in their use and maintenance was given.
This deployment gave ‘a hand up, not a hand out’ to over 500 people and empowered women in a heavily affected area with an under-served minority. By asking the communities what help they needed, they were able to better attend to give the right support at the right time
Craig’s presentation was excellent, very interesting and informative and left us with much food for thought on how best to help.