August Miller, Deseret News
In what marks the beginning of a long partnership, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints joined with UPS and Atlanta-based CARE International to send 142,000 pounds of first-aid kits and emergency medical supplies to Myanmar Sunday in the wake of a vicious cyclone that resulted in nearly 78,000 deaths.
Although it hasn't been an easy task getting help to Myanmar, with the help of CARE International and the UPS Foundation, Garry Flake, director of the LDS Humanitarian Emergency Response, is confidant these supplies will reach their desired destination. Flake said he and the church have gained a trusting relationship with CARE. CARE has "worked in relief efforts in Myanmar for 14 years," Flake said. "They know government officials and have worked closely with them," making them one of few agencies that have been permitted to distribute in the country. "We have provided funding for purchasing immediate supplies in Myanmar over a week ago which CARE handled," Flake said. It's something you build on trust.
After confiscating shipments, the military junta finally allowed a U.S. cargo plane to bring in food and other supplies to the isolated country, yet supplies are still scarce. Of the 2.5 million survivors, more than 1 million are homeless making clean water, basic hygiene and medical supplies what is needed most, according to CARE.
"We (the LDS Church) began the day after the cyclone with CARE in responding in country with purchases that were needed there," Flake said. After learning about the scarcity of medical supplies and hygiene kits, the LDS Church approached the UPS Foundation in an effort to partner in getting aid to hospitals and health clinics in the hardest hit cities and towns. "We are thrilled to be able to partner with CARE and especially with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in this relief effort in Myanmar," Steve Goodrich of UPS said.
In what was mobilized in the last 72 hours, the UPS Foundation and CARE have provided the way and the how of helping the LDS Church distribute the much needed supplies, Goodrich said. What was sent out Sunday were things like sterile gloves, stethoscopes, braces and splints, syringes and needles, and alcohol pads. Also sent were 13,000 first-aid kits, hygiene kits, tarps, blankets, food and soap essentially anything found in an emergency room.
"When you are putting together this kind of investment, you are taking that which is relevant and that which will get to the end of the line," Flake said.
Supplies will land in Bangkok, Thailand, where CARE will pick up and transport the supplies to hospitals and clinics."CARE has made arrangements with the United Nations to do the short hop from Bangkok on in to Myanmar where CARE will take the items and distribute them directly to health clinics and hospitals," Flake said.
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