Archive for the ‘volunteer’ Category

INDONESIA: Project Sungai Geringging Update – Week 6

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

volunteers pull down earthquake-damaged house
Wow, what an amazing start to Project Sungai Geringging (still love saying that!). We opened our doors on 25 October 2009 and in the following weeks have had 65 volunteers, representing 13 countries spanning the globe from Indonesia to Canada to Ireland to Russia to Lebanon!

We are assisting survivors of the 7.9 earthquake which rocked Western Sumatra on 30 September, 2009, and was followed by a separate 7.0 earthquake the following day. The earthquake damaged over 200,000 homes and survivors now struggle to remove the ruins and erect shelter as the rainy season quickly approaches.

Decon 5 (deconstruction)
earthquake damaged home in West Sumatra, Indonesia that will be deconstructed by HODR volunteersWe started with it on Day 1 and we’re still busy with it – deconstruction of rural homes. During the earthquake homes shook violently and walls buckled, often leaving the roof intact. Although the affected population of Padang Pariaman is proactively working to reclaim their ruined homes, many are so severely damaged that it is beyond the community’s ability to deal with the unstable structure. So the homes sit as a haunting reminder, precariously waiting to fall. The HODR hard hat team analyzes the structure, creates a safe working environment, re-claims salvageable materials, then in a controlled fashion brings the roof to the ground. Once the overhead hazard has been eliminated, volunteers busily remove the corrugated metal (aka zinc/galvanized iron/GI), disassemble the wooden trusses, and separate usable brick/stone from mortar. To date we have assisted in the safe deconstruction of 21 homes and 1 elementary school.

bricks salvaged by HODR volunteers from an earthquake-damaged home in West Sumatra, Indonesia,The driving force behind what we are doing is not only the elimination of unsafe structures but also the salvage of rebuilding materials. Doors, windows, ventilation block, wood, and zinc are all high value items in this area and everything we salvage translates directly to a cost saving when rebuilding. We have seen families utilizing their salvaged materials almost as quickly as we create it, turning the recycled pieces into temporary shelters and kitchens. The local household income for our area is equal to about US$70.00 per month, and our brick salvage efforts alone equates to about 2 months wages!

As our numbers swell, we’ve been keeping one step ahead with the build-out of our base. Our house starts as a blank slate (a pretty spacious fantastic blank slate), and over the weeks we’ve brought in bunks, built shelves, erected large canvas tents to increase the sleeping space and common areas, and expanded our rainwater catchment system to supply our water. If you arrive at the project today, it should look like the familiar HODR setup that you’ve seen at our other projects around the world. Thanks to all the volunteers who have worked at the base, making it a more comfortable and efficient place from which to run our work in the field.

1st Time & Repeat Volunteers
HODR earthquake relief volunteers in West Sumatra, IndonesiaOne of the highest compliments to our organization is to have a volunteer repeat their service at another project. We are proud of our programs and the work our return volunteers enable us to do (38% of volunteers on this project). Project Sungai Geringging is breaking some new ground on our international front with a high percentage of 1st time volunteers (62% of volunteers on this project). It is an honor to have so many people willing to fly almost around the world to join us on their first HODR experience. Thank you!

School #9
an earthquake-damaged school being deconstructed by HODR volunteers in West Sumatra, IndonesiaAlthough, schools (particularly primary schools) suffered heavy damages in the earthquake, resources for temporary classrooms were quickly mobilized and many now sport rows of temporary timber/plywood classrooms – a more conducive learning environment than hot canvas tents! However these temporary classrooms are often built right next to a precariously damaged masonry school building. Our deconstruction team worked side by side with local volunteers to “safe” an elementary school in a neighboring korong (neighborhood). The work was complicated and the scale was much bigger than the single-family homes we have been working on. Nonetheless, we brought the huge trusses down and salvaged tin that was quickly used to construct new temporary classrooms. Now, a new 3-classroom school building is under construction on the very site we helped demolish and clear.

Teaching English
On many of our international projects we have the opportunity to help students learn and practice English. In this case a local high school teacher invited our volunteers to come to his classes and engage students in conversational English with his students. Now, 2 days a week our volunteers engage high school students in topics ranging from life at home to life on the go.

Project Sungai Geringging has been helped by many people so far, one of them being Pak Andreas, an Indonesian businessman based in Jakarta. He continued his support in the form of a donation of hygiene, household, and food items to be distributed to our neighbors. Our volunteers unpacked, inventoried, sorted, and repackaged the goods in suitable portions and will distribute them with the help of local Posko (community-based information exchange) organizers. In all more than 500 beneficiary families will receive needed items!

Malalak Safari
HODR volunteers install rainwater systems at an IDP camp for earthquake survivors in West Sumatra, IndonesiaHODR is always looking for opportunities to help communities in need and for ways to engage our volunteers in meaningful programs, often in partnership with other organizations. One week ago, we started working with IBU Foundation, an Indonesian NGO at work in Agam (the district just north of us) where they are building an IDP (internally-displaced persons) camp. These families lost their entire community in earthquake-induced landslides, and now they’re working with IBU to build shelters, water systems, and latrines in their new home.

So far our work with IBU Foundation has taken us to Sini Air camp. As a HODR satellite project, our volunteer team lives and works away from our main base. In this case, they’re living in the IDP camp in a remote area (more remote than Sungai Geringging!) with no infrastructure. In the first round of this project, we installed 10 rainwater catchment systems on the transitional shelters; this week we return to help construct 2 communal latrine blocks.

People & Place
Part of a HODR project is experiencing the community we live and work in. Sungai Geringging has been friendly and welcoming to the volunteers who have come here to help. “Hello Mister!” and cheerful motorbike horn beeps ring out wherever we pass. Volunteers have become an established presence at the local warungs (streetside food stands) and in the market. We were even invited to a local wedding party! Volunteers have also explored the area on their own, taking weekend trips to Bukittinggi, hiking up local volcano Gunung Merapi, and renting boats off the beach in Pariaman. Through these activities, we gain a better understanding of the people and the place of Padang Pariaman. (Ok fine, the trips to Bukittinggi might just result in appreciation for the Big Bucket at KFC.)

With two and a half months of Project Sungai Geringging left, there’s plenty of time to come and volunteer! Taking it one house at a time, we’ll continue our deconstruction/salvage work as well as expand the diversity of our programs with the community and NGOs, bringing Sungai Geringging closer to the path to recovery.

Marc Young
International Operations Director
Hands On Disaster Response

A Day in the Life of a Volunteer – Project Sungai Geringging

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

Hi from Project Sungai Geringging!

In response to the recent earthquakes in Indonesia more than 50 volunteers from 11 countries have pitched in to help get the community back on its feet, and we’re excited to share this video that was put together by volunteers on-project. Thanks for your support!

Happy Thanksgiving from HODR!

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

monthly-giving-buttonThis Thanksgiving and holiday season, know that your giving makes a direct impact.

Nearly two months after the devastating earthquakes hit Sumatra, Indonesia, the needs are still great. To date more than 50 volunteers from 11 countries have pitched in at HODR’s Project Sungai Geringging, and we’ve made a lot of progress! Check out this short video, and please do all you can in this season of giving to help families and communities recover from disaster.

“Happiness Is” Film Says Giving Is The Way To Contentment

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

If you’ve volunteered with us or donated to a HODR project, you know first hand what the film “Happiness Is” is talking about. Giving of your time or money helps others in direct and tangible ways, and it just plain feels good to get involved.

“Happiness Is,” a new film by Andrew Shapter, is about the “pursuit of happiness” in America and the power of giving. HODR is excited to be a cause the film supports and if you pay attention you’ll see a couple of our project photos in the film!

Get Involved!
The film is helping spread the message about giving, and especially now, during the holiday season, what better time to get involved?!

Host a “Happiness Is” screening to raise awareness and funds for HODR! Get a group of friends together in your home or use a classroom or auditorium to invite hundreds of people, watch the movie, and ask for a “whatever you can give” donation to HODR. Email Beca at for more info and check out screening suggestions on the film’s website.

Support HODR’s Indonesian Earthquake Response Project! Volunteer or make a tax-deductible donation to directly support families in Indonesia left homeless by the recent devastating earthquakes. Whether you can join us in Indonesia, donate, or help us spread the word and fundraise to get others involved, your support makes a direct impact on those affected. More info »

Check out the “Happiness Is” website for a trailer and more info at and check out an article in the Huffington Post.

Thanks for giving!!

MEDIA RELEASE: Music for Relief Partners to “Mobilize” Support

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

For more information please contact:
Beca Howard, Communications Manager


Linkin Park’s Music For Relief Partners with Volunteer-Driven Hands On Disaster Response to “Mobilize” Support

SUMATRA, INDONESIA 10/28/2009 – Nearly one month after massive earthquakes devastated Sumatra, Indonesia, the needs are still great; whether physically being “mobile” by going to the disaster zone to volunteer, or sending a “mobile donation”, direct public support is still needed. Hands On Disaster Response (HODR), a US-based volunteer-driven nonprofit is on the ground operating a four-month-long response project to coordinate volunteers from throughout the world to help earthquake-affected residents get back on their feet. Music for Relief (MFR), a nonprofit founded by members of the band Linkin Park, is partnering with HODR to mobilize donations through a Text to Give campaign supporting critical recovery efforts via “mobile donation,” donations sent via text message.

HODR and MFR’s partnership will raise funds to directly support HODR’s volunteer project in Indonesia. The recent earthquake damaged over 200,000 homes and survivors now struggle to remove rubble and erect shelter as the rainy season quickly approaches. Through February, HODR volunteers will be assisting residents with debris removal, demolition of damaged homes, erecting shelters and general recovery efforts, providing the “human power” needed to begin to get devastated families back on their feet. Whether physically being “mobile” by going to the disaster zone to volunteer, or simply send a “mobile donation”, direct public support is still needed.

Text To Give: Text RELIEF to 90999 and a $5 donation will be added to your mobile phone bill or deducted from your prepaid balance. All donations will support HODR’s Indonesian Earthquake recovery efforts.
Volunteer: Lend a hand to those in need. HODR creates a platform for anyone interested to directly get involved in the recovery efforts. In return for volunteering their time HODR supports volunteers with housing, meals, tools and on-site training at no cost. Volunteers pay their own way to project site. Visit for more information on volunteering with HODR in Indonesia.
More Information: See on-site photos, video and more online at Hands On Disaster Response’s website,

“HODR was built by and for people whose instinct is to show up and help when they see others in need,” said David Campbell, Founder and Executive Director, HODR. “In a situation where there’s so much work to be done, there’s no greater resource than capable hands to help.”

MFR is supporting HODR’s efforts by promoting this volunteer opportunity to its supporters, making a financial contribution to the efforts, and launching the Text to Give campaign, in order to garner additional support from the public.

When the earthquake struck, the whole world was aware of the devastation. For weeks, months, and beyond the recovery efforts will continue. HODR provides volunteers with housing, meals, tools, and organized work opportunities at no charge – allowing affected communities to benefit from the outpouring of goodwill and able hands as they take the first steps toward recovery.

About Hands On Disaster Response:
Hands On Disaster Response (HODR) is a MA-based 501(c)3 nonprofit built specifically to harness the power of volunteers to provide direct assistance to disaster-affected communities around the world and in the US. HODR welcomes both returning volunteers as well as spontaneous volunteers, people not previously affiliated with any disaster organization, but who are willing to show up and help with whatever needs to be done – from clearing rubble to building homes and schools, from sanitation projects to children’s programs. Previous projects include: New York (2009 Flooding), Arkansas (2009 Tornado), Haiti (2008-2009 Hurricanes), Iowa (2008 Flooding), Missouri (2008 Tornado), Arkansas (2008 Tornado), Bangladesh (2007-2008 Cyclone), Peru (2007-2008 Earthquake), Philippines (2006 Typhoon), Indonesia (2006 Earthquake), Mississippi (2005-2006 Hurricane Katrina), and Thailand (2004 Tsunami). For more information or to donate visit

About Music for Relief:
Founded by members of the band Linkin Park, Music for Relief (MFR) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to providing aid to victims of natural disasters and the prevention of such disasters. MFR has organized a benefit concert featuring multi-platinum artists, sent musicians and volunteers to Southeast Asia and the U.S. Gulf Coast to help rebuild and donate supplies to people in need, and planted over 809,000 trees to help reduce global warming. For more information visit

Text to Give in Support of Indonesian Earthquake Recovery

Monday, October 26th, 2009

text-to-give-mfr-donation_281x211HODR is partnering with Music for Relief (MFR) to help raise funds for Project Sungai Geringging, Indonesia, and we need your help!

MFR has set up a TEXT TO GIVE campaign for HODR that will run from Tuesday October 27, through Tuesday November 5, 2009. Please help support our work in Indonesia via a mobile donation and by sharing the code with your friends.

A simple text from you and your friends can go a long way in getting this hard-hit community back
on its feet!

Text RELIEF to 90999 and a $5 donation will be added to your mobile phone bill or deducted from your prepaid balance. All donations will support HODR’s Indonesian Earthquake recovery efforts.

Founded by members of the band Linkin Park, Music for Relief is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing aid to victims of natural disasters and the prevention of such disasters. HODR and MFR have partnered in the past to support tornado-survivors in Mena, Arkansas in April/May, 2009. For more information visit

AMERICAN SAMOA: Tsunami Assessment Conclusion

Saturday, October 24th, 2009

After a two-week assessment in American Samoa, HODR will not be deploying a project. Residents are proactively clearing debris from the tsunami and the clean up phase will be over shortly. In the interim, residents are utilizing a combination of the shell of their homes, community spaces, temporary structures and tents to live in. The island seems focused on moving straight into the rebuild phase, however that process will not start for months due to the challenges of residents waiting for funding, and building materials and supplies being brought on-island. While there was significant damage in some villages, the community is on the road to recovery and there is not a strong need at this time for volunteer support.

We’re heading out of American Samoa but HODR’s work doesn’t end there. Continue to follow our Operations Teams on Twitter: @HODRops

For more information on our active volunteer response project in Indonesia, click here.

Thanks for your support and for following our efforts and work in the South Pacific.

INDONESIA: Project Sungai Geringging!

Sunday, October 18th, 2009

On Sunday, October 25, 2009, we opened our doors to volunteers to join us as we live and work with the people of Sungai Geringging to recover and rebuild from the recent earthquakes.

We are assisting survivors of the 7.9 earthquake which rocked Western Sumatra on 30 September, 2009, and was followed by a separate 7.0 earthquake the following day. The earthquake damaged over 200,000 homes and survivors now struggle to remove rubble and erect shelter as the rainy season quickly approaches. We anticipate working for four months, with the possibility of month-to-month extensions as needed. (If you watched this video of the assessment, you can catch a glimpse of our new base in Padang Pariaman, Sumatra, Indonesia!)

The HODR assessment team has been on the ground since 11 October, 2009, identifying key areas where volunteers can support the community’s mid-term recovery. For specific details of the project and how to get involved take a look at the Volunteer Info section of this site. Please contact Tom at if you are interested in joining us for Project Sungai Geringging (please put project name as the subject)!

HODR previously worked in Jogjakarta, Indonesia following a 6.3 earthquake in 2006.

Thank you for your support. Donations to our South Pacific Disaster Recovery Fund will go towards Project Sungai Geringging. You can continue to follow our progress via Twitter (@HODRops).

We hope to see you soon!

AMERICAN SAMOA: Tsunami Assessment Update

Sunday, October 18th, 2009

We’ve been on the ground in American Samoa for one week and it’s been a busy one…

We’ve traveled to the affected villages and talked with village chiefs, mayors and residents. The highest concentration of damage from the tsunami is in the Village of Amanave (check out video) with around 75 homes destroyed or majorly damaged.

Given the pace of debris removal and clean up we believe that these phases will be completed in the coming weeks through local efforts. Then demolition of damaged but standing structures will begin after new permanent homes are built. Many are using the shell of their damaged homes in the interim as their primary dwelling until they can build a new home.

We’ve met with CRWRC, Mennonite Disaster Services, World Vision, Catholic Charities USA, American Samoa VOAD, and the American Red Cross to share information and talk about the recovery efforts underway and those in the planning stages. We spent a couple of hours Friday helping Catholic Charities and the American Red Cross distribute food and water in Amanave. Distribution sites strategically placed throughout the island have also aided in the collection of needs and data on the affected population.

There may be a need here for both short term and long term case management and project/workflow management, meaning tracking and managing rebuilds and helping individual households.

We’re also exploring the costs and logistics that would be involved with hiring skilled labor with the thinking that we could potentially hire some locals to act as construction managers for unskilled volunteers to be utilized in rebuild effort. The unknown at this point is exactly when the rebuild phase will begin.

We toured a potential volunteer housing site that the Mennonites and CRWRC may get off the ground, and could be open to others like HODR if we set up a project.

Lots going on, lots to keep figuring out. Keep following us on Twitter (HODRopsUSA) and as we continue in the assessment.

In the meantime you can support our efforts in the Samoan Islands & our recently announced volunteer project in Indonesia in response to the recent earthquakes. If you’re interested in volunteering with us in Indonesia or a potential project in the Samoan Islands, email Tom at and you can support our work with a donation to our South Pacific Disaster Recovery Fund.

VIDEO: Indonesia Assessment – A Day in the Life

Saturday, October 17th, 2009

Follow Marc & Stef along on the assessment in Padang, Indonesia, following a 7.9 earthquake on Sept. 30, 2009.

More on our Indonesia Earthquake Assessment:
More info
See daily updates from our assessment team on the ground on Twitter @HODRops