Compassionate, effective, and efficient are attributes of these five disaster relief organizations. They illustrate appropriate disaster response does not involve the indiscriminate distribution of volunteers and other resources. These organizations also demonstrate the value of being prepared with a network of partners and a logistical support before a crisis begins.
1. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), known in English as Doctors Without Borders, provides medical humanitarian aid to people affected by natural disasters, epidemics, conflicts, and exclusion from healthcare. Impartiality, independence, and neutrality are MSF’s guiding principles. In 2017, MSF operated 462 programs spread over 72 countries. MSF has responded to the cholera epidemic that arose in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai, which hit in March 2019. In partnership with the Mozambique Ministry of Health, MSF has already treated more than 3,400 cholera patients.
2. Samaritan’s Purse is a nondenominational Christian ministry that works with partners throughout the world to provide physical and spiritual support in times of crisis and disaster. The organization’s relief efforts include providing emergency food, water, shelter, and medical supplies. Samaritan’s Purse has pre-positioned supplies in strategic locations around the globe to distribute supplies quickly when a crisis arises. In 2017, 1,711 surgeries were performed at the emergency field hospital Samaritan’s Purse established in Iraq. In the same year, Samaritan’s Purse volunteers cleaned and repaired thousands of hurricane-damaged homes in Texas and Florida.
3. All Hands and Hearts – Smart Response, which was formed by the merger of All Hands Volunteers and Happy Hearts Fund, responds to disasters quickly and remains in the affected community on a long-term basis to support rebuilding. Three days after the April 2015 earthquake in Nepal, the organization had arrived and started its work. Four years later, All Hands and Hearts is still in Nepal. However, the group has shifted its efforts from immediate disaster relief to rebuilding schools. To date, 17 schools are finished.
4. When a disaster strikes, Direct Relief works with members of their established network of local partners, government authorities, and other disaster relief groups to coordinate the response and avoid duplication of services. Direct Relief focuses on medical humanitarian aid to provide healthcare providers with medication and supplies.
5. International Relief Teams provides volunteers, supplies, and additional assistance to people impacted by disasters. Since 1988, the organization has sent out 433 disaster relief teams, involving 2,643 volunteers, and provided more than $113 million in emergency supplies to aid survivors of disaster.