Guest column by Daniel Xu: Nonprofit is on the ground helping communities
Medair is helping those in Haiti affected by Hurricane Matthew
Published in the November 9 – 22, 2016 issue of Morgan Hill Life
By Daniel Xu
After a weekend of unrelenting rain, the local worries of the Loma Fire last month can seem long gone. If you were fortunate not to have been immediately at risk from the flames themselves, their presence crept into your yard. White ash spiraled onto yellow grass, and smoke hung in the air. That mushroom cloud haunted your journey home on U.S. 101.
I hope that if you were affected, you were helped, as friends and neighbors chipped in and even strangers donated to assist the displaced. It was a display of both the destructive forces of nature and of the kinder, redemptive, resilient ones of a community’s response.
But look deeper, and it is also a display of our efficient infrastructure and of a coordinated effort to help spanning individual, community and national levels. Cal Fire and other local agencies responded rapidly, Morgan Hill Presbyterian Church was made into an evacuation center, and from Facebook to the grocery store we were told how we can contribute to help those in need. The American Red Cross worked together with government and community partners to help those impacted.
Imagine if the fire had been bigger, engulfing Morgan Hill downtown and all. What if all the local services were wiped out? What if neighboring towns had none? What if the state was already battling a string of fires in other places and your emergency was way down on the list?
Luckily, we in the South Valley do not often face natural disasters on the scale or with the frequency of other areas in the U.S. But even when we do, we live in a country with an infrastructure able to respond.
Other people are not so fortunate. That’s why a locally little-known organization called Medair was founded to be the 911 responder where there was none before. It has recently set up a U.S. base right here in the Silicon Valley. Medair is a global, Swiss-based humanitarian aid organization providing relief and recovery services to the world’s most vulnerable people, often in some of its most remote places.
You may not have heard of some of the places it operates in, but you will definitely be familiar with the most recent destination of one of its emergency response teams: Haiti. It seems almost cruel that just as the country is getting back on its feet following the devastating 2010 earthquake, it is hit by its first category-four storm in more than half a century.
The death toll rises daily, but the many more survivors are threatened also by an existing cholera epidemic, one which will now be severely aggravated.
Medair is on the ground providing relief to affected families. In close collaboration with other organizations, we are delivering assistance to the most vulnerable people in a large southwest portion of the island. Medair is providing emergency shelter kits, health and hygiene kits and household items.
Medair has a history of providing relief to Haiti, having worked there from 2010-2016. Encouragingly, early reports show that permanent homes constructed by Medair with local communities following the 2010 earthquake stood firm during Hurricane Matthew’s devastating force. This is testament to our quality work. Yet the destruction left by the hurricane is widespread and extreme – and now there is much to do, and we need to do it fast.
As needs rise in the wake of this storm, we ask for your help to care for the country’s most vulnerable people. Please give today and equip our teams to deliver the aid families need. Their neighbors and friends cannot step in. For $52 you can provide an emergency shelter for one family.
Daniel Xu is a Morgan Hill resident and U.S. development director for Medair, an international humanitarian organization. He wrote this column for Morgan Hill Life.