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Volunteering Abroad For Disaster Relief
Today, let’s go over volunteering for disaster relief—these are first-response and ongoing programs to help a community or group of people following natural and manmade disasters.
What’s Involved In Volunteering For Disaster Relief?
Volunteers can be on-call or ongoing participants for disaster relief projects, which help to provide preliminary and ongoing help after natural or manmade catastrophes.
This can include debris cleanup, search and rescue, First Aid or other medical care, and preventative strategies (such as bracing shelters against hurricane wind damage).
On-call volunteers respond to emergencies as part of a larger listserv for alerts. For example, the American Red Cross maintains a database of volunteers who have signed up to receive messages when they’re needed for disaster response.
Ongoing volunteers seek ways to help after an emergency already has occurred—such as some who signed up with Habitat for Humanity to rebuild damaged structures after Hurricane Katrina.
Who Can Be A Disaster Relief Volunteer?
The vast majority of disaster relief volunteers are trained specifically to respond to disasters beforehand—while many of us are moved to help when a disaster strikes, it’s best to get intensive training first.
Volunteers must be in good health and able to keep a level head during the emergency. Medical volunteers must have First Aid certification.
Ongoing volunteers, such as those who help to rebuild houses or community buildings, need less training but should still be in good health.
How Can I Get Involved?
Here are a few groups to get you started:
Photo credit: DVIDSHUB.