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COVID-19 Is No Barrier for Disaster Aid Australia
A Rotary Down Under Editorial, posted January 25, 2021
The work of Disaster Aid Australia, a project of the Rotary Club of Greater Dandenong & Endeavour Hills, Vic, has continued through the pandemic. In March 2020, with the full implications of the pandemic becoming apparent, the organisation swiftly pivoted to enable the continuation of its international aid program.
With travel impossible for the Disaster Aid Response Teams (DARTs), the Board decided to provide grants to its trusted partners to help them respond to the pandemic.
To date, these have included:
Food aid and isolation support to the Philippines with the Balay Mindanaw Foundation,
Food aid to Guatemala as a partner of Disaster Aid Canada,
A range of aid initiatives in Nepal with the Rotary Club of Kathmandu,
Medical support to COVID-19 patients in Bangladesh with the Rotary Club of Dhaka Royal,
Food aid in Agrabad with the Rotary Club of Agrabad, and
Supporting Disaster Aid Malaysia’s COVID-19 project in Sabah.
DAA is also responding to the Beirut explosion in partnership with Disaster Aid Europe, providing funds and a SkyHydrant to help repair a hospital damaged by the blast.
Further grants will be provided on a monthly basis until international travel becomes possible.
Safe Water for Every Child
The practice of training local installers to install SkyHydrants has had real benefits, with installations continuing, but at a slower pace for the major project Bhutan 2020.
DAA, together with partners the Rotary Club of Thimphu and the Bhutan Education Department, now expect this project to be complete in mid-2021. On completion, over 80,000 pupils in 120 Bhutanese schools will be protected from contaminated water.
Partners Balay Mindanaw and Safe Water for Every Child Myanmar continue to install SkyHydrants, with more units scheduled to be sent out in the coming months.
DAA is also assisting Disaster Aid Europe commence a safe water project in Albania.
Training and SkyHydrant installation support has been enhanced by the shooting of several videos on various aspects of the installation process, which are being shared with DAA partners.
SkyHydrant Master Class training is also being carried out for the Balay Mindanaw installers, with weekly Zoom training sessions.
Organisation and fundraising
Although the pandemic means the DAA office is currently closed, the organisation’s electronic systems have ensured essential tasks can be continued remotely.
One positive of the pandemic has been that, with Zoom meetings becoming more common, DAA has been able to deliver guest speaker presentations to supporting Rotary clubs beyond their normal ability to travel.
This ‘Virtual Vocational Visit’ to Disaster Aid Australia has also been developed, giving Rotarians an insight to the running of an international aid charity.