Whilst we where staying at the hotel, UNES, our partner organisation, mobilised and had supplies shipped in to be sorted and distributed to the shelters around San Salvador. We got involved and for the first time, for myself anyway I felt like I was positively impacting the current situation of this vulnerable country.
It started out by us sorting and packaging donated clothes. It struck me how a lot of the people who donated these clothes probably didn’t have much themselves but were generous enough to share what little they had - and that is something I’m not so sure we would always do in the western world, no matter how well off we are.
The next day the food and sanitary items arrived by the truck-load. The scene reminded me of those BBC News reports where the soldiers throw the bags of food off the truck. Except we aren’t soldiers... but like them we each transformed into a small cog which was part of the larger machine. One person started off the process with the first bag of rice being picked up and thrown to the second person, up the stairs and into the room, round the corner, eventually to where the bag would come to rest, to be joined by its brothers and the variety of other supplies which would soon join them.
Some people believe that the level of exhaustion after a day’s work is what sets a good day's work apart from a day lost. Today I bought into this belief.
To squat down, bend my knees and then flip that heavy bag over my shoulder to walk it in to be sorted felt deeply satisfying, just to know that we helped the people who will help many of the victims of this tropical storm.
Under 24 hours later we were back, once again forming an intricate machine with which we each packed or weighted or measured a separate item into the big plastic bags which we loaded onto the trucks to be shipped to all four corners of El Salvador.
I feel it worth mentioning that we made six hundred packages that day, one package for one family for one week. We were told later on that day by Maggie [Progressio development worker Maggie von Vogt who works with UNES], after she helped distribute the packages, that demand greatly outweighed supply, but at least we made a dent into that demand that was created by the storm, to do our bit.
Blog by ICS Empower volunteer Alex Felvus.
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Photo: ICS Empower volunteers Afraa Ali (left) and Zoe Lavery (right) help carry a bag of rice.