We hear about natural disasters regularly on the news, and whilst many of us will feel great sympathy for the people whose homes have been destroyed, not many of us give it much thought once the news programme is over. We all remember hurricane Katrina that ripped through New Orleans in 2005 and destroyed a whole community and the soul capital of the world, and more recently typhoon Haiyan that turned the Philippines on its head and ruined many parts of one of the most beautiful countries on earth.
So what can we do to help? Well, the easiest thing we can do is donate money, but let’s face it – most of us can’t afford to donate money these days. So what else can we do? Let’s look at some options of how you can still help, without going hungry yourself:
- Send medicines
- Send clothing
- Send tools
- Send camping gear
Before you put a parcel together to send to your chosen aid organisation, put yourself in the shoes of the people you are trying to help and ask yourself what items would help you most.
Send Medicines & First Aid Boxes
A box of painkillers like Paracetamol or anti-inflammatories such as Ibuprofen might not make much of a difference to your life by sitting in your cupboard at home, but they can really help to ease the pain for others in need. Most over the counter medicines are fine to send abroad to countries like the Philippines or India, but remember to check with your courier on a case by case basis, as not all will carry all types of medicine.
First Aid boxes packed with bandages and plasters can also be very useful to people living in disaster areas, but remember to remove any sharp objects such as scissors in advance as these cannot be shipped via courier.
Send Useful Clothing
The keyword here is useful! Think of what you would need if you lived in an area that was flooded for example. Would you want stilettoes, feather boas or glitzy dresses? Or a nice tie to compliment your shirt with a grubby stain or hole in it? No. Nobody wants that. What people in these areas want and need are useful clothing, things like wellington boots, rain coats and normal clothes like jeans and T-shirts.
Please do not send stained clothes or items that are ripped, torn or falling apart. The people you are trying to help in these areas are regular people like you and I who have had their lives turned upside down and their homes destroyed at the blink of an eye. So don’t be disrespectful. Treat them like family and send them things that really would help make a difference.
Send Practical Tools
Imagine if your home had been reduced to a pile of rubble. Imagine if your whole neighbourhood had been reduced to rubble too. Your family is moved into emergency accommodation and if you are lucky you may be able to start the long and hard road of rebuilding your family home. Tools are expensive even in the richest countries, so imagine the cost of sourcing tools when you have no money, no home and no income.
If you can part ways with any of your tools, then these would most likely be well received by the people you are trying to help. Remember their circumstances though – don’t send electric tools as they may not be able to use them, instead send screwdrivers, hammers, wrenches, trowels, rakes, buckets, and any items that can help people rebuild their homes and grow food.
Send Camping Gear
Some people may not be lucky enough to have emergency accommodation provided for them, so think of ways you can help them survive. Are you a camping enthusiast – could you spare some of your equipment to help save a life? If you can then the items you can donate could really make a difference.
Send camping gear such as tents, sleeping bags, sleeping mats, bottles with water filters, camping pots for cooking food in, fire-lighting flints, wind-up torches and even black bags for keeping clothes and belongings dry.
Last but not least, if you can’t afford donate money or you don’t have any useful items to send, then perhaps you could donate a bit of your time and volunteer at your local aid organisation to help them collect donations and spread awareness for their appeal. Anything you can do to help, is better than nothing. So let’s not just sit there feeling sorry for people that we see suffering on the news – let’s give them a helping hand!
Just think what could be possible if we all just did one little thing to help.