Executive Director Reflects on Sandy Relief Efforts
A major disaster can not be handled solely by an individual, city, state or federal government. In a devastating situation, people need to serve their fellow mankind. We need compassionate and dedicated individuals to join each other, and provide aid regardless of color, culture or faith.
As I stood in front of the damaged house of an elderly lady who had suffered a great loss due to the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, she made a very unique comment. She stated that she appreciated how the volunteers of Humanity First, both local and from across the United States, were so diverse: young and old, black and white, Muslims and Christians, all working together for a single cause to help people in pain. She said, "I am so happy to see everyone working together as human being and putting humanity above all."
She had not even completed her sentence, when a young Ahmadi Muslim youth volunteer chimed in and added: "That is why we work with Humanity First." The lady told him that they were angels for helping her. Yes, FEMA may eventually help her, but she did not have the insurance and even if she had a little bit of money there was no paid help to be found. How long could she live in shelters? The lower portions of her house had to be gutted out so it could be dried up to prevent mold and fungus. She wanted to move in the upper portion if the bottom portion was gutted and dried out so she can start to fix her house, one part at a time, and get back to her life. This could never have been achieved if the volunteers of Humanity First had not been there to help.
Humanity First is a grassroots non profit organization focused on human development and disaster relief projects. To date, Humanity First has been established in 39 countries. Volunteers and directors are all unpaid. Since it was established as a registered 501c3 organization in 2004, Humanity First USA has been responding to major disasters such as the tsunami in Asia, Pakistan earthquake, Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Charlie, Haiti earthquake, and Japan tsunami. Humanity First runs various successful programs including Gift of Sight, Water For Life, Feed The Hungry, Our Kids Our Future, vocational training programs, and medical outreach projects in the USA and across the globe in various underdeveloped nations.
Initially, with the assistance of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of New York metropolitan area, Humanity First launched its disaster relief efforts within 48 hours after the Hurricane Sandy hit the New York and New Jersey coastal areas. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth group in Long Island immediately started a hot food kitchen for Humanity First, and served various shelters, while other volunteers began their relief efforts in Staten Island, Far Rockways, Long Beach, Howard Beach and the Atlantic City area.
What was so amazing was that among the volunteers, there were those individuals who had suffered major damage to their own houses - but they were driven by their passion to help others who perhaps need help more despretly. The volunteers of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community for Humanity First came not only from the local area but also from Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersy, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Illinois, Michigan, Canada, Florida and Texas.
Since November 1st, Humanity First has served over 7000 hot meals and provided the help of over 5400 volunteer hours, 3000 direct volunteers hours and additional 2400 volunteer hours to the people in need through collaboration of other NGOs. Nearly 80 houses were gutted out and cleaned up. Several streets and parks were cleaned up in various areas, and Humanity First provided several hundred volunteers hours in food/supply donation sorting and distribution areas. Volunteers also distributed supplies directly to the homes of those in need.
Humanity First partnered with the Indiana Homeland Security, District 1 Task Force to manage the cleanup and distribution center in Long Beach New York. Humanity First also worked with Red Cross, the Mayor of Glen Cove, Long Island, Mayor of Staten Island, Senator Diane Allen from New Jersey and many faith based organizations and NGOs. Humanity First intends to continue its Disaster Response phase for another week or so, and will then focus on the rebuilding phase.
I know sooner or later, volunteers may burn out, funds may be exhausted, but the people affected by this devastation will struggle for long time. May God help them to solve their challenges and continue to send angels in the form of volunteer and financial aid to settle their matters.
Humanity First is registered in 43 countries across 6 continents, and has been working on human development projects and responding to disasters since 1994. These have included the earthquakes in Turkey, Pakistan, Japan and Iran, floods in Africa and Latin America, hurricanes (Katrina and Rita) , tornado's (Kansas) and wild fires (California) in the USA, Indonesia and Bangladesh, and conflicts in Eastern Europe.
Since its inception and IRS registration in 2004, Humanity First has been focused on spending most of the raised funds on direct program related expenses. As a result, more than 90% of its funds are in that expense category. This is achieved through dedicated volunteers in its management, and program operation teams.