August-September 2022 | Features

Getting back on their feet

Getting back on their feet

How a Rotary project that started in Manchester nearly 50 years ago has come to provide disaster relief all over the world, even in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Disaster Aid UK & Ireland (DAUK&I), a project of Denton and Audenshaw Rotary, has been helping people get back on their feet after disasters by giving them ‘a hand up, not a handout’ since 1974.

Having started life as Rotary Life Box, in 2010 they joined fellow Rotarians in the USA, Canada and Australia to form Disaster Aid International.

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Each country can work autonomously but can also work on joint projects under the Disaster Aid International banner. Each country partner is sponsored by a specific Rotary club and there are currently ten globally.

Deployments to Dominica 2017 and Indonesia 2018 have previously featured in the magazine.

Projects in 2019 in the Bahamas, Kerala and Mozambique followed and the charity’s strategy of Disaster Aid Response Teams (DARTs) to oversee operations has proved a tried and trusted response.

Fast forward a few months into early 2020 and as the world reeled from the impact of Covid-19, it was obvious that it was not safe to deploy DART members.

Disaster Aid Response Teams have been working to ship back-up power generators to Ukrainian refugees.

Far from hampering their efforts, DAUK&I became flexible, adaptable and resourceful, just like its DART members.

Having used, the now ubiquitous Zoom, since well before Covid for meetings, they further embraced it to aid communications and managed to be involved in projects along with Disaster Aid country partners and local Rotary clubs in Brazil, Guatemala, Bangladesh, Central America and Beirut.

In 2021 as Covid-19 continued to challenge; a number of oxygen concentrators were supplied to India. An innovative but simple means of supplying crucial treatment to those desperately in need.

Tents and other aid were sent to Haiti following an earthquake. Having worked on a number of projects with the Rotary Club of Greater Changanacherry in Kerala, India; Sawyer water filters were sent to distribute, following flooding and landslides.

The key to working remotely is in dealing with Disaster Aid International partners, local Rotary clubs and other trusted partners. Not always easy at a distance and DAUK&I would always prefer to deploy DARTs where safe to do so.

War might be even more of an impediment to deploying DARTs, but as Covid receded, the war in Ukraine in 2022 marked the return of DARTs.

Having started life as Rotary Life Box, in 2010 they joined fellow Rotarians in the USA, Canada and Australia to form Disaster Aid International.”

If the team were not quite in the front line, they were certainly closer than most of us would care to be. Arriving in Suceava, Romania in March 2022 they liaised with Rotarians in Romania and Ukraine.

Within Ukraine the power supply is inconsistent and in a medical setting potentially crucial. A plan was formed to work with Romanian and Ukrainian Rotarians to provide back-up generators which are scarce. A supply chain was established, sourcing generators in Romania for delivery to specific locations, including hospitals in Ukraine.

So, a bit closer to business as usual for Disaster Aid UK & Ireland and with climate change, Covid, natural disasters and wars its help will continue to be needed.

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