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Giving people back their dignity in Sumatra

Today I’ve opened — for the first time — one of Save the Children’s cardboard boxes containing a household kit. So far we have distributed 6,656 such kits to families who have lost most of their belongings in the earthquake. In a couple of weeks, 30,000 of the hardest-hit survivors will receive such household kits, together with shelter and a hygiene kit. But, as mentioned, today is the first time I’ve actually seen the contents. 

My new logistics friends have taught me that the household kit consists of 37 items. But one thing is to see an inventory list, with items described as “Toothbrush adult (Pepsodent), 4 units,” “Rope, plastic role (Tebal), 1 piece,” and so on. It’s completely different to open the cardboard box yourself and being able to examine the objects physically. Item number 18 on the inventory list, dryly and mysteriously described as “Slippers (Swallow and Sundswallow) – 3 medium & 3 for children,” turned out to be six pairs of flip-flops. Especially the bright orange pair of sandals in mini-size was cute.   

For the families who have seen their houses shattered to pieces by the earthquake and who lost most of their belongings in the natural disaster, a household kit must make quite a difference. Two 10-litre jerry-cans for water, a stove, plates, cutlery, soap, shampoo, a bucket, underwear, rain coat, detergent, a large mosquito net and all the other essentials are easily taken for granted by those of us living comfortably in the office. OK, we don’t have running water, a flushing toilet or any private life. But we are fed lunch and dinner every day, we have clothes to wear, laptops, mobile phones (two each!), an ever-increasing amount of furniture, fans that make the heat in the office possible to endure, heaps of water bottles and all sorts of things we could do without, but still take for granted.  

“Thank you very much! Now we get our dignity back,” said one father I met at a distribution of non-food items last week.

This is the very reason why Save the Children and all the other humanitarian agencies work around the clock to distribute the emergency relief. Families in remote villages still haven’t received the necessary aid. But every day around 5,000 people get lifesaving emergency relief from Save the Children. That’s why we’re here! 

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