Great Job, Team

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Great Job, Team

The last of our volunteers has returned safely from the British Virgin Islands after a ground-breaking, three-week mission to help the communities devastated by Hurricane Irma.

Craig in discussion with local recovery group leader Sally.

Craig in discussion with local recovery group leader Sally.

Dan, Craig and Simon flew home on Sunday to complete a mammoth effort by our teams, and to adhere to the Serve On creed of not impeding the local recovery efforts, once our work is done, nor becoming a burden on disaster-hit communities.

We were proud to have been asked to help after such a disaster and to work with the amazingly resilient people of the BVI and it will not be an end to our involvement with the wonderful communities there.

Simon leads efforts to cut a route to the site he identified for a repeater station.

Simon leads efforts to cut a route to the site he identified for a repeater station.

The difference we have made to the islanders has been tremendous and much-appreciated, and will be fully detailed once Operations Director Dan has had a chance for a debrief. 

Pete Old, a stalwart behind the scenes back in the UK throughout the operation, explained: "This type of deployment was new to us in many ways. We have never deployed our teams to a hurricane; never stayed deployed for this length of time; and never worked so closely with another team."

In a collaborative effort with Team Rubicon UK, and after being personally invited to the BVI by the Governor's Permanent Secretary, David Archer, our volunteers carried out important assessment and clear-up work on Beef Island, on Tortola and on Virgin Gorda where our communications, water filtration, assessment and organisational capabilities were a huge boost to the local recovery team.

We cleared medical centres to enable vital treatments of the local population, and cleared the airport at Beef Island to help speed the arrival of urgently-needed aid.

Our many years of disaster response experience allowed Serve On to work with Local government and international response structures to understand the needs of a population affected by Hurricane Irma.

It enabled us to provide practical on-the-ground support whilst providing information upward to the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency and, at the same time, to liaise with the Department of International Development and Foreign and Commonwealth Office

No fewer than ten of our expert volunteers flew out to the Caribbean at different times to offer their considerable skills, but none of that would have been possible without the help of those back in the UK.

Pete said: "Thank you to the teams that deployed and thank-you especially to Clare who led the UK side of the operation from a strategic/Gold perspective.

"Too many were involved in this deployment to name check everyone but to those who dropped everything to go to the Hurricane-zone without knowing exactly what they would be able to offer; those who drove to deliver and pick up teams at stupid o'clock; those who spent long hours in the operations room in Chilmark; and those who worked their magic with the web site and media outputs - THANK YOU."

Please let our wives, partners and families know how much we appreciate their support.

He said: "I would like to remember also those who allowed us to do this: Our wives, partners, and families who allow us to pursue our aim whilst staying at home doing the family stuff and worrying about us. Please let them know we appreciate their support."

Special thanks should therefore go to Emily, Becky, Dawn, Lisa, Yvonne, Cathy, Rahima, Anna and Shirley.

In order to support this deployment and the day-to-day work of Serve On, helping disaster-hit communities around the world and at home, we need the public's help.

Please give what help you can. Any donations would be greatly appreciated.

 https://cafdonate.cafonline.org/7081

 

 

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Changing Lives - The Lawson Trust

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Changing Lives - The Lawson Trust

Serve On is extremely grateful to the Trustees of The Lawson Trust for entering into a unique partnership with us to support our humanitarian international response work abroad.

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With the support of The Lawson Trust, we are able to deploy where there is real need and where Serve On’s dedicated team of expert volunteers can make a tangible difference on the ground.

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This means we can help those most vulnerable when disaster strikes.

Most recently, The Lawson Trust has supported our deployment to the British Virgin Islands following the devastating Hurricane Irma.

With the support of The Lawson Trust, we have been able to deploy three teams of our expertly trained volunteers who have:

•    Provided thousands of litres of safe drinking water
•    Made areas safe including clearing debris
•    Supported the sick and injured to get the medical help they need
•    Set up vital communications

We want to thank all at The Lawson Trust for their extreme generosity in supporting our life saving and changing work. 

Lawson Trust profile:
The Lawson Trust is a charitable trust formed by Raymond Lawson (a successful business man born at the turn of the 20th century) and his wife Blanche.
In their later life they formed the Raymond and Blanche Lawson Charitable Trust which went on to become an incredible legacy of the Lawsons. 

Today, The Lawson Trust remains firmly rooted in Kent with friends of the couple and descendants of the Lawsons’ friends guiding the work of the trust. The trust has a wide remit of funding priorities with a particular focus on organisations which work in Kent and Sussex.
http://lawsontrust.org/

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Still Making A Difference

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Still Making A Difference

Our amazing volunteers are continuing to build up the resilience of the Hurricane-hit communities on Virgin Gorda.

Serve On have been absolutely fantastic

Working long hours, from 6.30am to midnight, they have made themselves invaluable to the Virgin Gorda islanders with their guidance, support and communications expertise, as local recovery team leader Sally Riley was only too keen to recognise.

See Sally's view on our facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/serveonIRT/videos/vb.347242632084232/954957174646105/?type=2&theater

Meanwhile we have been happy to welcome home Serve On's Mark Gatfield and Roger Howells and Ellie Mackay from Team Rubicon after their sterling work on Tortola, the largest of the British Virgin Islands.

They had been providing logistics and coordination support to the islanders, repairing Hurricane shelters and helping to prepare for the impact of Hurricane Maria.

Roger, Ellie and Mark return after their excellent work on Tortola in the British Virgin Islands.

Roger, Ellie and Mark return after their excellent work on Tortola in the British Virgin Islands.

After the storm passed they focused their efforts on gettting key facilities up and running.

Roger, a former fire fighter from Mid and West Wales Fire And Rescue Service said: "The fire headquarters in Road Town had been badly damaged. The building was full of water, their control room was wiped out, computers and cables everywhere.

"We were able to work alongside the firefighters to help clear the debris and divert water away from the building."

See report of Roger's work here: http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/retired-welsh-firefighter-flew-caribbean-13674774

 

The team also assessed an old people's home where they found residents who could not be moved sheltering in very cramped conditions on the ground floor after the roof of their building had been blown off.

Roger said: "Working with the 59 Commando Royal Marine Engineers, we manged to empty debris and replace the roof of the building. We gave them what protection we could in the immediate aftermath of the storm."

They arrived home this morning to be welcomed by their families. Well done guys. Great work.

NASA photo from space shows the devastating effect Hurricane Irma had on the BVI.

NASA photo from space shows the devastating effect Hurricane Irma had on the BVI.

Back on Virgin Gorda, our team of Dan, Craig and Simon, plus Lizzy from our collaborative partners Team Rubicon UK, have seen the local management team grow and increasingly grasp the recovery plan our team has been helping them with and which has received high-level backing.

As pictures from NASA showed how Hurricane Irma had turned the British Virgin Islands from a green paradise to a brown wasteland, the BVI Governor's representative, on a visit to Virgin Gorda welcomed Serve On's efforts to help the local communities get back on their feet.

An advanced party from HMS Ocean also commented on how well the island was doing with Serve On's help, and how other islands would do well to follow the example.

There was more good news when the 15-year-old lad who took shelter with our team from Hurricane Maria was finally evacuated to hospital at Tortola for checks and was found to have suffered only bruising and a small tear to a kidney from his fall from a roof.

Flooding at our team's base in The Valley, Virgin Gorda.

Flooding at our team's base in The Valley, Virgin Gorda.

Our team is now back at their base in The Valley area of Spanish Town, having spent hours clearing the flood water brought by Hurricane Maria, and coping not just with the needs of the local people, but also with visits from the local wildlife, including fire ants, spiders, scorpions and the ever-present mosquitoes.

The next challenge will be to leave the local community to cope without us, and to pave the way for the rebuilding work of the 'grey shirts' from Team Rubicon.

In order to support this deployment and the day-to-day work of Serve On, helping disaster-hit communities around the world and at home, we need the public's help.

Please give what help you can. Any donations would be greatly appreciated.

 https://cafdonate.cafonline.org/7081

 

 

 

 

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Building a Better Future

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Building a Better Future

After a harrowing two days under threat from Hurricane Maria, the Serve On disaster responders are back at work and continuing to support the storm-battered people of the British Virgin Islands.

Mission accomplished

Their immediate priority is to provide a working communications system which would be a vital lifeline for the dispersed communities of Virgin Gorda, now and in the future.

Fortunately, two of the Serve On experts on hand, Craig and Simon, are signals specialists, and they have the support not only of our collaborative partners from Team Rubicon UK, but of the Virgin Islands Search and Rescue (VISAR) team and the ever-helpful Virgin Group of companies.

The first job of our teams on both Virgin Gorda and on Tortola was to stay safe and they emerged with 'mission accomplished' around 6am local time as the storm-force winds and rain of Hurricane Maria finally started to wane.

Lizzy Stileman and Simon Thomasson take down the boarding which had protected the team's safehouse from Hurricane Maria.

Lizzy Stileman and Simon Thomasson take down the boarding which had protected the team's safehouse from Hurricane Maria.

On Tortola, the team carried on with vital assessment work, updating the people's needs in the wake of the latest storm to ravage the island.

Wrecked yachts on Tortola.

Wrecked yachts on Tortola.

For the ordinary inhabitants of the Virgin Islands, it is not just paradise that has been lost but, for many, it is their homes and everything they own.

Most of them could never have dreamed of owning any of the luxury yachts which now lie wrecked, littering the landscape and the harbours, but they will certainly suffer from the damage done by the storms to islands' tourist industry.

On Virgin Gorda, our team liaised with the detachment of Royal Marines and their medic to get appropriate treatment for a 15-year-old boy who had fallen from a roof as he helped his father prepare the family home for Hurricane Maria and who, with his mother, had spent the night in the safe house with our team.

The Valley, in Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda, where the team's stronghold was flooded by Hurricane Maria.

The Valley, in Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda, where the team's stronghold was flooded by Hurricane Maria.

Apart from the loss of a few roof tiles, the house had withstood the storm largely unscathed and by noon the team were happy to remove the plywood boards from the windows and to let the Caribbean daylight flood in.  

Returning to their previous base in The Valley, they found the building had been badly flooded and one major door had been ripped off by the Hurricane.

The team helped board up the gap and cleared debris and flood water from the main road as well as bailing out their base of operations.

They helped assess how the communities of North Sound and Leverick Bay and the Gun Creek clinic had withstood Hurricane Maria and found the stalwart Nurse Daisy tending seven patients at the clinic, now without a roof or power and with flood water in danger of damaging equipment.

The devastated community of North Sound on Virgin Gorda.

The devastated community of North Sound on Virgin Gorda.

Currently the only way of communicating between the dispersed communities on Virgin Gorda is to drive between them, if the roads are not blocked, which is what makes the setting up of a VHF radio network so vital.

Serve On volunteer Simon Thomasson, whose bosses at Ericsson have kindly supported his deployment to allow him to share his valuable skills as a telecoms engineer, had already helped identify a site for a maritime VHF repeater station before Maria struck.

Now Simon, who is normally based in the North of England, and the rest of the team are hoping Virgin will will be able to provide the equipment for our experts to help to install.

A VHF radio network would allow for emergency calls from the far-flung communities to get a prompt response and provide a pathway for the ordinary people to communicate their urgent needs as they pick up the pieces of their lives, whether it is building materials, medicines or food and water they require.

Communications ace Craig Elsdon at the team's hub on Virgin Gorda before they took shelter against Hurricane Maria.

Communications ace Craig Elsdon at the team's hub on Virgin Gorda before they took shelter against Hurricane Maria.

It would also allow them to keep up to date with the latest weather reports.

In the lead-up to Hurricane Maria, the sole source of accurate weather forecasts came from the Serve On BGAN satellite terminal, kindly donated to our team by e3 Systems (www.e3s.com) which has more than proved its worth.

Similarly, we have had reason to be grateful to Daisy Communications (www.daisygroup.com) for our new Ops phone.

It very much in the culture of our collaborative charities - both Serve On and Team Rubicon UK - to build sustainable disaster response systems in the countries that we respond to during disasters.

It would be a fitting legacy if, when our work is done, we leave behind communities that are safer because of the provision of a communications system, and we are also discussing our Community Resilience Team model with the local leaders on Virgin Gorda and asking whether this would be of any benefit to them in the future..

Though the Hurricane danger may have passed for now, there is still plenty of work to be done to rebuild lives, as one little bird proved as it set about its nest replacement, just days after Irma had destroyed just about every tree in sight.

In order to support this deployment and the day-to-day work of Serve On, helping disaster-hit communities around the world and at home, we need the public's help. Please give what help you can.

Any donations would be greatly appreciated.

 https://cafdonate.cafonline.org/7081

 

 

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Safe and Sound

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Safe and Sound

Serve On's disaster response volunteers will emerge from their safe shelters this morning to see what further damage Hurricane Maria inflicted on the British Virgin Islands and to get straight back to work.

Hurricane damage on Tortola was already extensive before Hurricane Maria approached.

Hurricane damage on Tortola was already extensive before Hurricane Maria approached.

Though the teams reported facing Force 6 winds, gusting at Force 7, as they hunkered down in their safe houses on Tortola and on Virgin Gorda last night, the eye of the hurricane mercifully passed south of the BVIs.

It meant the 'monster storm' which had flattened 90 per cent of the homes on Dominica, and killed one person on Guadeloupe, was battering the US Virgin Islands and on collision course with Puerto Rico rather than adding further woes to the already devastated British Virgin Islands.

Our Operations room had monitored the welfare of our volunteers throughout the onset of the storm and was happy to report they were all safe and sound.

Our team on Tortola had braced themselves for more damage to be inflicted on top of the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Irma.

Our team on Tortola had braced themselves for more damage to be inflicted on top of the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Irma.

Before they retreated to a home they knew to have survived Hurricane Irma unscathed, our team on Virgin Gorda had spent eight hours securing two homes and a school, boarding up windows and doors, drilling through concrete and removing all debris that could be picked up by the storm.

They also helped to care for a 15-year-old boy who had fallen 12ft from a roof while helping his father weather-proof their own home.

The lad needs CT scans at the Peebles Hospital on Tortola but the weather meant he and his mother had to hunker down in the house with our team, waiting until Maria has passed before he can be moved.

On Virgin Gorda the team helped clear debris that could be picked up by Hurricane Maria and turned into missiles.

On Virgin Gorda the team helped clear debris that could be picked up by Hurricane Maria and turned into missiles.

On Tortola, our team had similarly spent the time ahead of Maria's arrival helping make shelters safe, and preparing for their own safety.

The word from all our volunteers was that they were fit and well and feeling positive about the ongoing work, as soon as the weather allows them to carry on.

One of the key functions our experts have been able to perform has been to help provide clean drinking water for the people of Virgin Gorda with our Arctic Clear portable water filtration unit.

Locals in The Valley area of Virgin Gorda'scapital Spanish Town queued for drinking water produced by our water filtration unit.

Locals in The Valley area of Virgin Gorda'scapital Spanish Town queued for drinking water produced by our water filtration unit.

When the unit broke from constant use, our collaborative partners at Team Rubicon UK were able to help us fly out spare parts with one of their teams in order to get it going again and it would seem wrong for the team, when they finally leave the BVI to take it away from the local people.

Finding the £3,000+ to replace the unit ready for future missions is another reason why the charity needs donations from the public.

In order to support this deployment and the day-to-day work of Serve On, helping disaster-hit communities around the world and at home, we need the public's help.

Please give what help you can. Any donations would be greatly appreciated.

 https://cafdonate.cafonline.org/7081

Meanwhile, Serve On has been monitoring the latest earthquake in Mexico which has killed more than 200.

Having regard to the local capabilities to provide an Urban Search and Rescue response, we think they have the necessary specialist resources in country to cope with the disaster and so we have not formally offered our capability, but we will continue to keep an eye on the situation.

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Hunkering down for Hurricane Maria

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Hunkering down for Hurricane Maria

Serve On's disaster response experts were tonight safely sheltered against the second Category 5 Hurricane to hit the British Virgin Islands within a fortnight.

As high winds and heavy rains lashed the islands already laid waste by Hurricane Irma, it was hoped the eye of the latest storm would pass just south of the BVI, sparing them the most devastating effects of Hurricane Maria.

Scene of devastation outside the team's stronghold before Hurricane Maria. 

Scene of devastation outside the team's stronghold before Hurricane Maria. 

In any case, our volunteers were well prepared for the worst and had made sure they were in safe accommodation, having taken all possible precautions to protect themselves, and the islanders they have been helping.

They know from years of experience in disaster zones, and from our extensive training, that their safety is paramount.

Hurricane Maria, which had unexpectedly strengthened in just a few hours from a Category 1 Hurricane to a Category 5, with 160mph winds, had this morning hit the island of Dominica with devastating effect, and was on course to hit Puerto Rico.

Our teams on the British Virgin islands of Tortola and Virgin Gorda, along with our colleagues from Team Rubicon UK, had used the time awaiting Maria's arrival to help the locals prepare for another catastrophic weather system, identifying the strongest shelters and, liaising with British Royal Marines as they helped to reinforce them.

Storm clouds brew over Virgin Gorda

Storm clouds brew over Virgin Gorda

Operations Director Dan Cooke and Operations Manager Craig Elsdon, leading Operation Zulu Warrior on Virgin Gorda, reported that morale was high and progress good, though the wind was strengthening and the sea state was 'fruity'.

They, along with International Response Team member Simon Thomasson, and Team Rubicon's Lizzy Stileman, were taking shelter in a house that had withstood Hurricane Irma with no damage at all.

They had previously left the bank building 'stronghold' in Spanish Town which had been the team's base, and they had carefully rehearsed all their emergency plans

On Tortola, Mark Gatfield and Roger Howells were similarly making sure they were safe having done all they could to help the locals prepare for Maria.

Earlier, telecoms expert Simon had worked with Virgin staff to identify a site for the location of repeater station which will make a huge difference to the communications for the whole of Virgin Gorda once the Hurricane danger has passed, and Craig Elsdon had set up in single email link for the islanders.

Dan Cooke and Craig Elsdon help locals organise their recovery.

Dan Cooke and Craig Elsdon help locals organise their recovery.

We are monitoring Maria's situation closely from the UK, and wish our teams the best, and we know that when Maria blows over they will be perfectly placed to respond to any islanders needing help.

Their skills in setting up advanced communications systems and communicating any immediate needs to government agencies or our collaborative partners in the BVI, Team Rubicon, will also be invaluable.

In order to support this deployment and the day-to-day work of Serve On, helping disaster-hit communities around the world and at home, we need the public's help.

Please give what help you can. Any donations would be greatly appreciated.

 https://cafdonate.cafonline.org/7081

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 Press Release: RAF support enables rescue team to reach hurricane hit BVI - first report from the field

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Press Release: RAF support enables rescue team to reach hurricane hit BVI - first report from the field

A joint disaster response mission by Serve On and Team Rubicon UK have arrived in the Hurricane-hit British Virgin Islands in a unique collaboration with the Royal Air Force.

With the BVI devastated by category 5 Irma's 185mph winds and Category 4 Hurricane Jose threatening to follow Irma's path of destruction, the team had successfully reached Barbados but all standard flights onward to the area had been cancelled.

The only air link to the main island Tortola was through rare emergency flights until the arrival of the RAF on Friday.

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Hurricane Irma

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Hurricane Irma

Serve On International Response Team has arrived in the Caribbean ready to help communities devastated by Hurricane Irma. #HurricaneIrma

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A Job Well Done

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A Job Well Done

Serve On's mission to the Philippines has drawn to a close and our team will fly home today after a job well done.

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Together with our friends from Team Rubicon and Dentaid, our volunteers leave behind them a grateful community better prepared for whatever nature might throw at them in future and children in better health and with their schooling and life chances improved.

One of the benefits of the mission was working in partnership with the other two charities.

The team deployed two weeks ago to Manduae City, a suburb of Cebu island's capital, Cebu City, in a collaborative venture to build local resilience and improve education facilities for some of the area's poorest communities.

Straight away our volunteers got to work training students from the local Emergency Response Unit Foundation, teaching them some of our Urban Search and Rescue techniques, such as casualty extraction, coaching them on fire rescue and handling road traffic accident casualties, and instructing them on some of the technical equipment we use.

IRT member Nick Borritt instructs local emergency responders.

IRT member Nick Borritt instructs local emergency responders.

Team leader Craig Elsdon and fellow International Response Team (IRT) member Nick Borritt, who was able to deploy thanks to Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue, plus Dog Team member James Lewis, were among the Serve On guys who imparted their valuable knowledge to the local emergency responders.

Technical equipment instruction for the local emergency responders.

Technical equipment instruction for the local emergency responders.

Meanwhile, two of our Rescue Rookies, Jazz Williams and Ethan Elsdon, helped coach some of the children in the suburb's schools on the facts behind earthquakes and how best to respond to them. They also assisted all three charities' volunteers in other work.

The joint mission by the charities was centred around the Umapad Elementary School in Manduae which provides education for a group known as 'the scavenger children' whose homes are on the local rubbish dump and who make a living by recycling other people's waste.

Jazz teaching some of the Manduae school children.

Jazz teaching some of the Manduae school children.

Using the local school as a base, Dentaid experts brought smiles to hundreds of children, training them in oral hygiene and performing scores of necessary extractions.

Team Rubicon UK got to work rebuilding desperately-needed school classrooms for the under-privileged children in the area for whom the threat of earthquakes is a daily fear.

The 7,000 islands that make up the Philippines lie on a major fault line which means they are subject to some of the world's worst natural disasters such as flooding, volcanoes and earthquakes, and Cebu island, south of Manila, has regularly suffered the consequences.

James Lewis teaching some of the children about earthquakes.

James Lewis teaching some of the children about earthquakes.

Local TV report on our team's work (starts at 25 minutes into programme.)

Couple that with its turbulent economic and political history, and one fifth of the local population lives below the poverty line.

Of the 1,400 children who attend Umapad school, around 900 live on the local rubbish dump so their classrooms provide a precious stable base for them, but some of the rooms house 60 students, making them cramped and hot.

Team Rubicon worked with local suppliers to knock down crumbling classrooms and rebuild them to make them more spacious; putting in electrics, constructing blackboards and sourcing local reroofing materials.

Back in the existing classrooms, Serve On Rescue Rookie Jazz Williams, told Spire FM radio the local people, and especially the children, were keen to absorb any information Serve On could offer.

A lesson on earthquakes.

A lesson on earthquakes.

She said: "It's awesome here. Everybody is really welcoming. It's just, all round, quite a nice experience so far.

"We've been to about six schools and we've seen between 400 and 600 students and we've been teaching them about earthquakes and how to prepare for them, before, after and during.

"The reaction has been really positive and all of the kids have got a lot more confidence around us as the sessions have gone on and they are getting a lot out of it, coming away with some really good information."

Pointing the way to a brighter future.

Pointing the way to a brighter future.

Jazz, 16, from Salisbury, added:  "It's great interacting with the kids, really, because they get along so well and they're so grateful for everything; for you being there and chatting to them; and it's just really nice to see how positive and just how lovely they all are."

When Jazz and Ethan were not helping to teach the local children, they also got involved in the emergency response training, often in the role of casualties to be extracted from cars or buildings.

The teams will arrive back in the UK on Saturday, having built important bridges with a community which has found it doesn't need to wait for disaster to strike to get help from Serve On, or from Team Rubicon and Dentaid

Rob Witton, from Dentaid said before the volunteers left Cebu: "I think, for me, one of the benefits of the mission has been working in partnership with the other charities because we all complement each other.

The Serve On instructors with the local responsders.

The Serve On instructors with the local responsders.

"We have a great team spirit and, actually, there is a lot of evidence out there that suggests that when you combine different interventions you actually create a greater impact, so the sum is greater than the individual parts and I think that our case is a really great example of that."

Average number of kids in Manduae school classroom= 51
Total number taught earthquake lessons= 2,354
Total number of of schools visited = 13
Emergency responder students taught = 38. Search and rescue courses delivered = 3
Teeth extracted = 422
Dental inspections = 354

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Making A Difference In Cebu

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Making A Difference In Cebu

Serve On volunteers have hit the ground running in their bid to improve local resilience on the disaster-prone Philippines island of Cebu.

They are very keen to absorb the training and information that we can impart to them.

Less than a week after deploying to Manduae City, a suburb of the island's capital, our team has already trained 18 students from the local Emergency Response Unit Foundation in valuable Urban Search And Rescue techniques, such as casualty extraction.

Umapad School's welcome for our teams.

Umapad School's welcome for our teams.

They have also coached them in fire behaviour and in dealing with casualties involved in road traffic collisions, with two more courses planned over the next week as part of the joint mission with Team Rubicon UK and Dentaid. Helen Littlejohn writes.

The location of the Philippines on a major fault line means that the country's many islands suffer some of the world's worst natural disasters such as flooding, volcanoes and earthquakes and, with one fifth of the local population living below the poverty line, they are not always well-equipped to deal with the consequences.

That is why Serve On's expertise is so welcome.

Earthquakes are a real threat to everyday life on Cebu, so emergency drills are an essential part of education for the local children to prepare their response to any sign of a quake.

For that reason, 630 students have been taught what to do in the event of shocks, like dropping to the floor, getting under a desk and holding on tight, and they are lessons they can take back to their families.

 

The Serve On team includes two members of our Rescue Rookies programme who regularly train alongside our volunteers and who have travelled out to the Philippines to assist in the classrooms.

Team lead Craig Elsdon told BBC Radio Wiltshire the efforts of all three charities were much appreciated in Manduae City, especially among the emergency responders, because of the extremes of nature they have to contend with.

He said: "They pretty much have a mixed bag of everything - lots of typhoons, and earthquakes - and we are out here to try to help them with their training so they can deliver a better response.

"The guys and girls that we are training have been fantastic. In fact, the people of the Philippines are brilliant and very welcoming. They are very, very keen to absorb the training and information that we can impart to them." 

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The joint mission by the three charities has been centred around the Umapad Elementary School in Manduae City which provides education for a group known as 'the scavenger children' who make a living by recycling other people's waste.

Of the 1,400 children who attend Umapad school, around 900 live on the local rubbish dump so their classrooms provide a precious, stable base for them, but some of the rooms house 60 students, making them cramped and hot.

Team Rubicon has worked with local suppliers to knock down existing classrooms to make them more spacious; rebuilding walls, putting in electrics, constructing blackboards and sourcing local re-roofing materials.

Using the school as a base, Dentaid experts have brought smiles to 270 children, training them in oral hygiene and performing 160 extractions in three days.

During the course of the rest of the mission, all three charities will continue to treat children and complete the rebuilding of classrooms whilst building relationships and forging links with the local population and government officials to identify other schools in the area which need assistance.

We wish them all the best for the rest of their deployment. Watch this space for further updates.

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Destination Philippines

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Destination Philippines

Serve On members are all set to deploy to the island of Cebu in the Philippines for a joint operation to help improve the lives of the disaster-struck population there.

We have partnered with Team Rubicon and Dentaid in a collaborative effort to try to build local resilience and to improve education facilities for the poorest children in the city of Mandaue.

Teams of volunteers from the three organisations will depart on the morning of Saturday 19 August to The Philippines.

Home to the 'Scavenger children'.

Home to the 'Scavenger children'.

The collaborative mission will be focused on Umapad Elementary School, a publicly-funded school that provides education to a group known as “scavenger children”. These children live by recycling other people’s waste into money.

Manduae is a large city of around 365,000 people but with little funding for schooling the poorest people within its population. Large areas of slum-condition housing border its city centre limits with little or no opportunities for the young people there to progress away from poverty and into employment.

Damaged classrooms make learning difficult. 

Damaged classrooms make learning difficult. 

Umapad Elementary School services a slum area that has been devastated by numerous incidents including earthquakes, large fires and damage from recent typhoon activity. The buildings are mainly constructed from scrap materials and easily fall victim to any bad weather conditions. The school is struggling to provide good opportunities for education and is groaning under the weight of students and lack of resources.

Storm-damaged school building.

Storm-damaged school building.

The three charities will together provide vital repairs to the school, support teachers with training and equipment, enhance delivery of education to the poorest children in the city and provide much needed dental care to the children.

Serve On's team will work with first responders and local support volunteers in order to establish a bridge of training and support for the future.

Serve On student members from the Salisbury Area will work with students of the University of Cebu to provide educational support and to offer resources to support learning

Ready to provide vital resilience training to local first responders.

Ready to provide vital resilience training to local first responders.

Team Rubicon, meanwhile, will deliver crucial support by working with people to rebuild classrooms and ensure they are ready to support a learning environment.

Dentaid is a Salisbury-based charity that provides dental equipment and treatment along with education and training on dental health to affected communities around the world, so while construction takes place, Dentaid will provide a Dental Treatment Centre for the children and their families.

The multi-layered project endeavours to combine our skills in order to provide support and resilience to the scavenger children and their families.

We wish them all the best on such a worthwhile venture. Watch out here for further updates.

Offering our support to the children of Manduae

Offering our support to the children of Manduae

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