Project HOPE sends volunteers, $1.5 million worth of supplies to Nepal

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MILLWOOD, Va. - Project HOPE, a local nonprofit organization, is no stranger to assisting with natural disasters.

"We have experience deploying teams for natural disasters. We began in 2005 with the Indonesian tsunami,” explained Matthew Peterson, deputy to the president and CEO.

Since then, Project HOPE has helped aid in every global natural disaster, including Hurricane Katrina, and “most recently, the natural disasters in Haiti, Japan and the Philippines,” said Peterson.

Experience like this is why Project HOPE was able to deploy volunteers and $1.5 million dollars worth of medicine and supplies immediately after Nepal was hit with a devastating earthquake on April 25.

“When an earthquake strikes, it happens very suddenly,” explained Peterson. “We quickly form our emergency operations team, which look at how we are going to respond [to the natural disaster] both short term and long term."

Despite their wealth of experience, Project HOPE said each natural disaster presents its own challenges.

"One of the interesting and challenging aspects about this particular disaster is simply the geography," said Andrea Dunne-Sosa, Project HOPE’s Director of Volunteer Programs, who spoke with WHAG Thursday morning from Nepal via cell phone.

“You’re dealing with two separate types of environments,” Dunne-Sosa continued.

While a major part of Nepal’s population live in and around the capitol city of Kathmandu, the epicenter of the earthquake originated in Nepal’s nearby mountainous, remote regions.

"There are some places where they're reporting that 90 percent of the infrastructure - almost all of the buildings including the health clinics, medical facilities and people's homes - were completely destroyed,” Dunne-Sosa said of the remote areas.

Project HOPE said they differentiate themselves from other disaster relief organizations, because they are committed to long-term stays in the countries and communities where natural disasters occur.

"A lot of organizations that respond quickly to disasters, they come in quickly and leave after the acute phase is over,” Peterson said. “We have about 35 global programs in place that offer continuing aid to these communities.”

"We're seeing a great need for wound care, for post operation care, and…mental health is a significant issue,” said Dunne-Sosa, who currently has ‘boots on the ground’ in Nepal. “We have individuals who have gone through a very traumatic experience, not only in physical injury, but [they have] lost homes, lost family members, lost their communities."

Both Peterson and Dunne-Sosa said that while monetary donations are always welcomed, bringing media awareness to a natural disaster after the acute phase is sometimes the toughest part.

“If you can’t make a monetary donation, help raise awareness by continuing to bring attention to the relief effort,” Dunne-Sosa explained. “It’s a wonderful way to offer support to victims.”

Project HOPE said they are bringing in 11 more doctors and nurses on Friday to help their team in Nepal.


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