Friday, January 07, 2005

Charities mobilise to organise Gibraltar Tsunami response

Gibraltar continued with a heartfelt response to the Tsunami Disaster
yesterday with people not only digging into their pockets as the appeal fund reached £183,000 but also physically giving clothes and goods away. Mountains of clothes and other items were being collected at Cammell Laird and the Safeway car park. Those leading the effort are now giving guidance as to what they really require.

A spokesperson for the charity Manacare Foundation was asking for no more clothes preferring disinfectant, sanitary towels, cotton wool, toiletries, water purification tablets, baby food, bandages, tinned milk, powdered baby milk, pulses and blankets. There is also a need for volunteers to help load the containers and sort out the items.

And in his New Year message last night Peter Caruana, Chief Minister, said Government will be initially contributing £100,000 to the relief effort.

“The relief and reconstruction effort will take months and years. Thousands of communities need to be rebuilt. We will seek other ways to help, perhaps by sending a relief team, medicines and medical equipment from the old hospital to set up a medical facility somewhere in the affected region. A Committee is being established in partnership with Gibraltar charities and other NGO’s to develop these ideas,” he said.

Meanwhile, whilst the Red Cross, Manacare Foundation and others are organising the charity surge shipping companies and stevedores have all mobilised to ensure as swift a response as possible. Jens Sorensen of Sorek, who has experience with relief work distribution in Mozambique and Somalia explained that John Thomsen MAERSK chief in Algeciras had agreed to provide a free container and seafreight to Sri Lanka.

Road transport is also being provided and stevedores at Blands immediately responded by saying they would be taking the empty containers off the vehicle, stuff the container and reload onto the lorry for free.

Space has been booked on the first vessel to sail from Algeciras to Colombo - the m.v. SOFIE MAERSK - Danish flag container vessel built in 2000. It sails 12th January 2005 and is due in Colombo 1st February 2005. Sorek obtained permission from Safeway to put one of their vehicles - a 7 ton removal box lorry- in their car park for the public to bring their items and DHL, agreed free transport to take goods delivered into Cammell Laird from the dockyard to the North Mole. Manacare arranged for helpers to sort and pack the delivered donations of goods whilst Sorek will provide the lorry and technical assistance and supervising the loading and all documentation in connection with the shipments.

The first container will be coming to Gibraltar Friday morning and then be taken over to Algeciras Tuesday 11th January in time to catch the SOFIE MAERSK.

The response from the public was such that by 11 am cars were queuing up to deliver and they were running out of space. Due to the quick response and assistance from Cammell Laird and M H Bland Stevedoring the organisers are overcoming the problems of the physical space problems.

Tom Parry headed the Cammell Laird effort and they not only collected more than 225 bags of clothing but also sorted it all out into various categories such as toys, children’s clothing, under-garments.

The public can deliver goods 24 hours a day 7 days a week to the gate at the entrance to the Cammell Laird dockyard whilst the deliveries to Safeway Car Park is only during normal daylight hours from 9.30am to about 7pm hours.

At the Caleta there were thanks from Dr Haroon on behalf of eastern Sri Lankans to Angela Lopez, Elizabeth Reyes and all the villagers of Catalan Bay for their generous support toward the Tsunami Appeal Fund. The total sum of £1078 was collected and has now been sent to the Tsunami disaster relief. The donation has been transferred to a non governmental organization in Eastern Sri Lanka and will be used for the purchase of food, water, clothing and medicine for those affected.

The charity Manacare set up a hospital in Ragama six years ago in Sri Lanka.
“It is still standing, it is very wet and much is ruined, we are repairing this, but ultimately in the short term we are going to set up a clinic on the east coast,
attached to this clinic will be an orphanage, a school or even in the early stages street classes,” Manacare Founder, Joy Butler Markham, who has also been collecting donations up the Costa del Sol told the Chronicle. Four vans arrived yesterday.
The charity expects to send six nurses from Gibraltar and other skilled workers to the area at the end of this month.


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