Carroll group works to aid the victims of tsunamis

Nonprofit is packing medicine for Sri Lanka

December 29, 2004|By Gina Davis | Gina Davis,SUN STAFF

Reaching out to survivors of the tsunamis that have killed tens of thousands of people in 11 countries from Thailand to Somalia, workers at Interchurch Medical Assistance Inc. in New Windsor have begun packing medical supplies for a shipment of 75 boxes bound for Sri Lanka, an official with the nonprofit organization said yesterday.

"We know the response will have to be long-term to really provide what they need," said Vickie Johnson, communications director for Interchurch Medical Assistance. "But there has to be an immediate response, too.

"This is our work, this is our whole purpose, to help our brothers and sisters around the world who are hurting."

The medical boxes will include antibiotics, first-aid and wound-care supplies, medicines for respiratory ailments, ointments for skin conditioning to help people exposed to unclean water, and vitamins for people who may be short on food and suffering from an inadequate diet, Johnson said.

She said the boxes, which usually take several days to pack, should be ready for shipment by airfreight within a week. Though the disaster that occurred between two holiday weekends - with many staffers on vacation - presents a logistical complication, she said the group will not be hampered in its efforts to respond.

"We'll be moving ahead with this response immediately and processing additional requests if and when they come in," she said.

Johnson said her group had received a call for assistance yesterday from the National Christian Council of Sri Lanka, a local partner of one of Interchurch's member groups, Church World Service.

The local partner "would be key in receiving these emergency supplies and assisting with distribution in the country," she said.

Much work remains in assessing the damage from the tsunamis, caused by the largest undersea earthquake in 40 years, to determine the logistics of providing needed assistance.

"Everyone is talking about examining the situation and figuring out the best way to respond," Johnson said. "

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