Monday, October 24, 2005

Relief Efforts

"In terms of logistics, the difficult terrain makes this one of most challenging relief operations ever undertaken," U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan told reporters at U.N. World Headquarters in New York Wednesday, October 19, 2005. In issuing an unusual personal appeal for additional help, he warned, "A second, massive wave of deaths will happen if we do not step up our efforts now."
(Source: )

Shaken by the fact that millions affected by the quake are still homeless and without shelter in several villages across Pakistan, a small group of friends across Pakistan, the United States and the United Kingdom are working together to provide shelter as fast as possible to areas that are not being reached by any relief agency. Comprising of young professionals and graduate students, the group has been documenting its progress using this blog.

The group is focused on:

  1. Soliciting and channeling cash donations
  2. Researching appropriate avenues of obtaining high-quality shelter, especially tents
  3. Finding effective distribution networks and engaging in follow-up

The group has implemented a three-pronged strategy of fundraising and reaching the affected while purchasing a combination of different types of tents available in Pakistan:

1. Soliciting and Channeling Donations:

As of November 5th, 2005, funds are collected mainly via ADP's website and forwarded on to Pakistan. This is done periodically to pay tent suppliers, with whom the Karachi-based teams have made prior arrangements.

On an average the group has been raising PKR 50,000 (USD $833) a day since its formation on October 17, 2005.

2. Shelter Research and Purchasing (see separate Shelter Purchasing Page here)

3.Reliable Distribution Networks to Needed Areas: (see separate Shelter Distribution Page here)

Phase II Plans

The earthquake's affects on the survivors will last a lifetime and both the rehabilitation and redevelopment phase will need to continue for decades to help return these areas to some form of normality. As the images from the TV screens become less frequent, the group will continue its efforts and assist those caught up in this natural disaster, by continuing to pursue some of the ideas originally proposed and raising funds to aid the redevelopment in the region.

There remain a number of issues that are affecting the people in Pakistan – e.g. orphans, livelihood, women's lack of security, food etc. Given that the first snow fell within 48 hours of the quake, the group will concentrate its efforts on delivering shelter to difficult-to-reach areas.

Basic Milestones

Individuals who are part of this drive have engaged in various efforts, and bring to the team the following milestones as a result of working individually and collectively on quake relief efforts. These include:

Tent Deliveries

-18 Single ply canvas tents from Relief Shelter Drive funds. Delivered Friday Oct 21, 2005
-3 single ply parachute material tents Rs. 2,700 each from private funds. Delivered Thursday Oct 20, 2005
-30 double ply fully winterized tents, Rs. 9,700 each. Ordered Sunday Oct 23, 2005
-150 single ply resin coated denim/canvas, essentially donated at Rs. 550 each. Ordered Mon. Oct 24, 2005
-15 flex tents (donation given to IGS for tents to Elahi)

Flex Tents

- Pakistan group among pioneers of utilizing old and new flex (billboard skins) to produce tents (see picture below)
- Group solicits, facilitates and expedites the whole process of collecting flex and sending it to tent seamers
- Developed a network of flex tent seamers between Karachi and Lahore
- Estimated 1,500 tents provided free via this method, mainly to individuals from distant villages

Mobilizing Medical Teams

- Connected doctors and medical students with organizations forming mobile hospitals and medical camps
-Gathering on-site information of what is lacking from on-site contacts in various relief areas and disseminating this information
-Providing teams with and distributing supplies such as generators, medical and surgical supplies through various linkages
-Donation collection and grants
-Facilitating the collection and mobilization of donations from US, Saudi Arabia, UK , Pakistan, -Germany and other countries
-Donations already mobilized and tents supplied mostly to individuals going back to villages as well as Omar Asghar Foundation, Pak Shaheen Group, PAF and other medical teams
-Collected and donated cartons of toys, food, blankets etc. to SOS TV1 Children's Sanctuary near Balakot
-Purchased and donated sanitary napkins for women victims sent via women doctors

Developed and disseminated tent manufacturers database

-Created much needed database of who can deliver exactly what type of tents, when, where and for how much

Working with/Donating to:

-Education Health Development (EHD)
-Omer Asghar Foundation
-Pak Shaheen Group
-Flex Tent Seamers:(Horizon Graphics, Image Graphic Solutions, RoadTrip
-Relief efforts at PAF museum
-Sungi Foundation/ Joint Action Committee
-Khidmat Foundation
-Surgical Unit 3, Civil Hospital

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is your overhead cost? How much of my donation will go towards tents?

A: All of your donations will be going towards purchasing shelter, as there is no overhead cost associated with this initiative. However, if the donation is made online, Paypal does charge a small percentage per credit card transaction.

Q: Are donations tax-deductible?

A: Donations upto this point have not been tax-deductible. However, RSD is now partnering with the Association for the Development of Pakistan (ADP). Association for the Development of Pakistan is a non-profit charitable organization as determined by Section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Service, tax ID# 20-0022158. Your gift to Association for the Development of Pakistan towards Relief Shelter Drive is tax-deductible to the fullest extent permitted by law.

Q: I have heard of the groups Relief Tent Drive and Tents for Quake - how are they different from you?

A: They're not - we're the same initiative. This drive initially began on October 18, 2005, collecting funds for tents. As the first heavy snow fall is predicted by mid-November, the group is also looking for alternative forms of shelter apart from just tents. As a result, we now refer to ourselves as the Relief Shelter Drive.

Q: I have been hearing reports that there are a lot of tents available in Pakistan, and many are being sold on the black market. How do I know that my donation will reach those that need it?

A: The RSD team is working with tried and tested grassroots distribution networks to ensure that the shelter purchased with your donations is being delivered to the villages we have identified in our strategy. We also hope to provide as much photographic evidence as we can of the areas where we are trying to distribute and set up shelter.

Q: Why should I donate to you and not to a larger organization with more resources?

A: The RSD team is utilizing a distribution network to reach areas that have received bare minimum aid and are not being served by the government or any relief organization. Further, the team is trying its best to guarantee that your donation will be used in the most effective manner with no overhead cost.

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