Natural disasters are happening more and more often, and as the world heats up, their frequency and severity will only increase.** The places hit hardest are often the least prepared, and the least equipped to bounce back. Through our commitment to long-term disaster relief, in the form of scholarships, vocational training, permanent shelter, we’re helping vulnerable communities get onto solid ground.
* UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, writing in the New York Times
** World Bank Report on Climate Change
Within three days, our volunteers were on the ground distributing food and water for the refugees. After working near the disaster's epicenter, we soon focused on Rikuzentakata, a remote coastal town of 23,000 people where more than a third of the population had lost their lives. Later that year, we donated $1 million to pay for the education of children orphaned by the disaster.
After the catastrophic earthquake struck Haiti in January 2010, we shipped 11 palettes of medical supplies to Haiti, where they were received by Partners In Health. We also distributed staple foods to refugees on the ground, and identified 30 children who had lost parents or other close relatives in the disaster and been forced to drop out of school. We’re now providing scholarships for those 30 children, and they’re all back in the classroom.
In 2009, the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka were ravaged by unprecedented floods, destroying millions of acres of crops and displacing 2.5 million people. In response, we announced a $10.7 million relief package for the flood survivors in both states. Just 20 days after entering into an agreement with the Government of Karnataka to provide new homes for displaced flood survivors there, we had already completed 100 new houses. And that was just the beginning.
In 2008, one million people were rendered homeless in Bihar when the Kosi River over- flowed its banks. We pledged $465,000 in relief. Our medical teams remained on the ground for more than two months, treating 50,000 people. We also distributed thousands of tents, blankets and tarpaulins along with cooking stoves and vessels, food, clothing and school supplies. A government official there commented about our volunteers, "I wonder if they are even sleeping at night! We are very thankful to them for accepting our appeal and rushing to help us in this time of need."
Following hurricanes Katrina and Rita, more than 100 Embracing the World service groups throughout North America responded by delivering food, clothing, school supplies and other essential items to the refugees. Our volunteers visited relief sites and provided medical care and emotional support. We also helped the displaced to locate one another via a dedicated website we built for the survivors. In December 2005, we donated $1 million to the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund.
The relief and rehabilitation work conducted by Embracing the World in the wake of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami stands today as one of the most multi-faceted, comprehensive and sustained disaster-relief projects ever undertaken by a nongovernmental organization. What made our work unique was its holistic nature—every aspect of the tsunami survivors’ lives was considered and improved. In the end, many survivors stated that in terms of their quality of life and economic independence, they were better off after the tragedy than they had been before.
In 2001, Gujarat suffered a devastating earthquake. 20,000 people lost their lives. Amma dispatched a disaster relief team of 12 doctors, two ambulances and 100 student volunteers from Amrita University. Ultimately we adopted three entire villages, rebuilding 1,200 homes from the ground up, as well as community centers, a church, a mosque and a temple.
In 2005, torrential floods displaced millions, especially slumdwellers, whose makeshift houses were washed away. We immediately provided food and blankets for the refugees. Medical teams treated more than 50,000 patients and distributed $1 million in medicines.
In May 2009, Cyclone Aila hit West Bengal and Bangladesh, leaving 330 people dead and one million homeless. Medical camps ran for 10 days, with our doctors treating approximately 3,000 people, dispensing more than 2,000 USD worth of free medicine. Our volunteers also distributed approximately 800 articles of clothing and blankets, served 6,000 free meals and gave away two tons of rice.