Saturday, 28 January 2017

Volunteer Paramedics Heading to Greece

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 Four paramedics are travelling to freezing, overcrowded 
refugee camps in Greece to provide first aid training to charity workers.  

Simon Woodmore, James Porter, Kate Shaw and Mifta Murad are all members of our  Hazardous Area Response Team (HART).  

The team, based in Isleworth, is heading to Thessaloniki on Sunday (22 January) with Hands International, a charity which supplies humanitarian aid to refugees.

Rev Simon Woodmore said: “There is something about being able to help desperate people. As paramedics, we want to help others. 

“This isn’t political, it is just about humanity."

According to Hands International, 16,000 refugees are living in abandoned warehouses and factories – at least a third of those are children. The charity has found that hygiene is poor and people are surviving on rations of one sandwich and a bottle of water a day. Medical care is limited.  

Simon and his colleagues will provide training for charity workers including a range of life-saving skills as well as safeguarding awareness and major incident training.  

Simon, of Hemel Hempstead, went to Calais last year to help run a vaccination clinic for refugees. 

He said: “Visiting the camps is humbling; you get an idea of the human side. People are living in shelters and yet they will invite you into their tent to share their meal. 

“There are about 25 camps in Thessaloniki so the scale of it will be different to Calais and the weather is appalling. It has been snowing and it is very, very cold. 

“Part of the mission will be fact-finding: we will see what is needed; what is going on. We will see how we can help in the future.”

The four paramedics are using annual leave to volunteer in the camps. 

Quality, Governance & Assurance Manager Martin McTigue, who is also a trustee for Hands International, said: “We are proud of our paramedics volunteering to go into the camps.

“They will be helping people who have suffered so much hardship and who face so much uncertainty – their help can make a difference.”

HANDS International are hoping to hear from any staff who would like to join future humanitarian missions around the world. Please contact him

Thursday, 17 November 2016

ACS Egham Project Nepal and HANDS International Initiative

In 2016, Project Nepal partnered with Health and Nutrition in Developing Societies (HANDS)  International of Nepal to support the nutritional needs of the Jana Bhawana community. 

Three full-time Nepalese staff were hired to assess malnutrition and teach the local families how to compensate for them. 

Now, a school garden is in the works and health surveys continue. We have received a donation that will help us continue this partnership through March 2018.
In November 2016, Project Nepal received a donation that made it possible for us to purchase one solar lamp per student and two charging stations that will remain at the school in order to encourage attendance. 
Also in November 2016, additional fundraising allowed us to purchase 78 winterization kits for students and teachers. Kits contain winter clothing and blankets. 

Thursday, 27 October 2016

What I felt as Calais burned

by Rowena Harding

I only spent a few days in Calais each time, but what struck me as I walked the camp, alone or with a resident or with a fellow volunteer, was the civility of it.

Yes there were reports of bad people, there always are in a group of 10,000 people but as I was only there a short time, I saw none of this. No one leered at me, jeered at me, hassled me or begged. No one demanded, shouted or made me feel uncomfortable. I didn’t get that on my walk to work this morning or even on my jog this evening.

What I got instead was offers of tea, coffee, warm milk, food, a chat, a tour, someone to make sure I was safe, not lost, a story, a photo of a child, a drawing.

I didn’t see tribal factions, or bludgers. What I saw was combined industry of Afghans, the hospitality of the Sudanese, the humility of Eritreans, combined with what must be what they describe as blitz spirit of the British, the indefatigable energy of volunteers, the resourcefulness of people who live in a less consumerist, less disposable culture than ours who made gardens, grew tomatoes, planted marigolds in empty tin cans, made raised beds, planted herbs, created stoves, constructed shops, created economies selling one cigarette, a bit of sugar. And despite at times being in muck so foul I gaged, it was the flowers in tin cans, the beautiful paintings on chipboard, the attention in making you a decent cup of tea that stood in my mind. So much so that I couldn’t help but think wouldn’t it be amazing if the world could live more like this. (More toilets and taps) but the same communal sharing, caring, giving, not taking more than we need, sense of community.

May be I am naive. May be I saw something in that camp or the people in it that was unique to me. But I feel like what we (society) have razed this week was more than just a collection of tents, caravans and chipboard, but a symbol of the rich potential of humanity, a symbol of people’s determination that even when everything around them has been reduced to so little, they will always strive for something better.

I can only hope that the people who are now dispersed across France find the spirit to continue spreading their humanity and determination into where ever they now are. I know they have spread it in my heart and it will forever change the way I look at my lot in life.

After spending time in Calais, I will always seek to plant flowers in what other people think is rubbish.  

Thursday, 2 June 2016

The 'Avon ladies' of Pakistan

From 8am to 4pm, 25-year-old Samina Khaskheli travels door-to-door in rural Pakistan handing out free samples of condoms, birth control pills, and intrauterine devices.
“I was told ‘This is sinful’,” Samina says about the initial opposition to her selling birth control. She took the job warily. Her off-the-map village, Allah Bachayo Khaskheli, is home to roughly 1,500 people in the country’s south-eastern Sindh province. The flatlands are covered by livestock, and economic desperation leaves women toiling alongside men as farmhands, livestock breeders and cotton pickers.

Monday, 30 May 2016

Are You Syrious?

The UNHCR spokesman Melissa Fleming expresses concerns about the living conditions of the sites in which people formerly staying in Idomeni has been evacuated.
Despite the evacuation has taken place without using force, some of the new sites provided by the Greek Government and financially provided by EU are below standards.
"Some of the refugees and migrants who had been living in Idomeni have been moved into derelict warehouses and factories, inside of which tents have been placed too tightly together. " says the UNHCR report. "The air circulation is poor, and supplies of food, water, toilets, showers, and electricity are insufficient. Refugees transferred by bus from Idomeni received little information about conditions at the new sites and the duration of their stay there."
Moreover, as families are also arriving spontaneously by feet, sites are already overcrowded.
UNHCR is seriously concerned about sub-standard conditions at several sites in northern Greece…

Friday, 27 May 2016

Brief History of HANDS International

A brief history of HANDS International by Prof A G Billoo, Chairman HANDS International.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

An Account of a Jungle Volunteer

by Zainab Shaikh

Some words from one of our volunteers who went to the 'Jungle' in Calais & Dunkirk.
"More people would skip past a reminder of humanity than a photo of Kim Kardashian changing her hairstyle. 
I know people don't like seeing people in pain, therefore I won't put one of those guilt tripping photos of a child escaping a bomb blast in Syria, or a man screaming whilst being crushed by a building. But I will tell you that it has been 5 YEARS that this has been going on.
Getting money to go straight to the suffering people has been deemed almost impossible, although we are still trying our best. However I went to the refugee camps in Calais and Dunkirk in France, and was so shocked by the living conditions even the people who think they have escaped face. This was one of the better camps where they at least had a plastic tent to cover them although they still slept in a swamp. Kids were running around this barefoot - I was wearing at least 7 layers and was still FREEZING.
I know everyone says 'I can't afford anything', but do you not still have bed-covers at night? Do you not have a coat for when it's slightly cold? But these people don't even have a mat to cover the mud they sleep on. These people don't have any defence against any kind of disease. Hands International is a Non-Profit organisation trying so hard to make a difference, it's a registered, tax exempt charity working alongside MCEC Palmers Green Mosque who funded the project - this is also a registered charity.

Thanks to them both, 4,028 residents of these camps have been vaccinated so far. Go to their websites,…/label/Projects%20in%20Calais and and you can enquire or see exactly what they are doing. To donate to these refugee camps please donate at or donate directly to MCEC and the money will be distributed. Thank you, (a prayer for them counts too) 
 Im so sorry for the lengthy paragraph 😅 but please share the links!"