Are you helping in any disaster area at present?
In 2010 we made an emergency appeal to help with the flooding disaster in Pakistan which affected more people than the Tsunami in 2004; over 30,000,000. We work closely with a partner in Pakistan and was able to send funds that we could be certain would directly help people in great need. Over £65,000 was sent which provided tents, food, clothing and medicines. We have helped with the floods in India last year and have also sent funds to help with the Philippine typhoon victims. The most recent disaster we were able to help with was in the state of Kerala in India where the worst floods in over 100 years devastated homes and communities. Finance was sent to a partner there who was able to buy essential supplies for families who had lost everything.
What kind of goods do you send to disaster areas?
In the past we sent food, water, shelter, clothing and medicine – in the face of war or natural disaster, people need these items urgently. Depending on circumstances we may also take medical goods. In recent years the best thing to send is finance to enable partners on the ground to buy essential food and goods locally.
What has been your biggest contribution to disaster relief?
Before the Pakistan disaster referred to above the largest disaster response was to the Tsunami. As a result of the Tsunami Appeal, Blythswood Care delivered the equivalent of 17 containers of aid to South East Asia. Trucks went overland to India, six containers to Sri Lanka, six containers to Indonesia, one container to Thailand and one to the Maldives. We launched an appeal for filled banana boxes. Our partners in India suggested the goods which would be useful to those affected by the tsunami – toiletries, some foodstuffs and clothing, crockery and cutlery, tools, heavy duty gloves, waterproof sheeting etc. As a result of the generosity of our supporters, 2700 banana boxes packed with these goods were distributed to 900 families in three villages in India. We also handed over two medical kits, costing £7000 each, one to Sri Lanka and one to India.
Do you work alongside other organizations which are providing disaster relief?
Yes, we have delivered both Shelter boxes and Aquaboxes which have been given to us by Rotary International. Shelter Boxes consist of tents to sleep up to ten people, sleeping bags, candles and cooking pots and Aquaboxes contain water purification tablets to ensure a steady supply of clean water. Both help provide temporary shelter and clean water in a disaster area.
We also work with other charities both at home and in the recipient country and we are Members of the Global Hand network.
Do you sometimes send money?
£60,000 was sent to Pakistan in 2010 and when an earthquake hit Kashmir in 2005, the immediate need was to provide shelter for those left homeless. Winter was approaching and tents were not suitable for a climate which could see 25 feet of snowfall in an average winter. Blythswood appealed to its supporters for funds to supply metal sheeting so that families could erect shelter before winter set in. More than £16,000 was contributed – sufficient to rehouse an entire village of 271 families. In situations like this money is more useful than goods and we always assess the situation carefully. It is better to send money to partners in India and other countries far from the UK as help can then be provided more quickly.
Do you have any restrictions on who you help?
We believe that it is a privilege to help those in need. Whatever their religion or ethnicity, we must help them as God enables us, remembering how the Lord Jesus Christ laboured to help the destitute in body and soul.
In which crises has Blythswood been able to help?
With your support, Blythswood has responded to the Armenian earthquake of 1988, Kosovo in 1999, Afghan refugees in 2002, Iraq in 2003, the Bam earthquake in 2004, the Tsunami in 2004, the Kashmir earthquake in 2005 and the more recent disasters in Mozambique, Malawi, China, Haiti, Pakistan, India, the Philippines, with migrants from Syria in Serbia, Nepal and this year in India following devastating floods in the state of Kerala.