Two places – one objective

by Ruth Bücker,  2012/01/27

Since its foundation in 1979, humedica has been sending hundreds of tons of relief goods to disaster areas every year. Shiploads that contain drugs and spread hope. Lorries that bring medical equipment, and hope for a better future. Aid flights loaded with pallets of food, which mean strength and energy for an often hard life.

The humedica relief shipments facilitate the lives of hundred thousands of children and adults. And for many of them they even mean survival. At this point we would like to tell you in short about two relief shipments, which could hardly be any more different from each other, but which nevertheless have the same objective: living charity in action and offering help where it is needed.

Shipping containers for Ethiopia

Responsibility can be assumed by everyone” – a slogan that could have been invented in the advertising business, but had an effect far greater than any advertising slogan could ever have.

By lorry from Kaufbeuren to Wilhelmshaven, where a relief ship of the Federal Navy took over further transport of the relief goods. Photo: humedica/Ruth Bücker

Thilo Frommlet, proprietor of the Memmingen-based company Gefro Reformversand KG, caused these words to be the motto of the probably largest relief campaign of the company’s history – in favour of the starving people at the Horn of Africa.

The company donated milk powder and especially developed high-calorie soup of a value of several hundred thousand euros to humedica. The last ration of the shipment was dispatched to the Horn of Africa on January 26, by a supply ship of the German Navy.

This cooperation with the German Navy could be established thanks to the general practitioner and paramedic Georg Müller (also Board Member and Medical Director of humedica, as well as Chief Staff Surgeon of the Reserve), who, in autumn 2010, contacted his former comrade and now admiral doctor Dr. med. Rainer Pinnow and was invited to hold a presentation of the work of humedica at the “Medical Officers Workshop” in Kiel-Holtenau.

In September 2011, following an invitation by admiral doctor Dr. Pinnow, Georg Müller and Prof. Dr. Dr. Bernd Domres, a relief doctor and physician of the fleet off service, who has also been active for humedica for several years, visited a congress of the ambulance service of the German Navy at the naval college Mürwik in Flensburg.

Based on these dialogues, the German Navy eventually offered us to send the two shipping containers from Wilhelmshaven to Djibouti for free.

Besides food, the relief shipment also contains an off-road 4x4 vehicle. This vehicle will substantially facilitate the work of the medical teams who have to make daily trips of several hours in order to reach the refugee camps, and the local humedica employees are already looking forward to its arrival.

Shoes, clothes and a minibus

By another way, and in another country, help has already reached its destination. Due to the terrible events that occurred last year in several African countries, the number of refugees fleeing to Europe is soaring.

African refugees are sorting through the piles of clothes that have been donated by the GiM-clothing store: Photo: humedica/Wolfgang Groß

The pictures of overcrowded boats, which took refugees to Lampedusa, and which gave us an idea of the horrible ordeal the refugees had gone through, also moved the heart of humedica CEO Wolfgang Groß, and again and again he thought about how he could offer active help. Therefore, by summer, Wolfgang Groß had contacted various persons who were of major importance for the success of the relief campaign.

Friedhelm Loh, proprietor of the German group of companies Friedhelm Loh Group (F.L.G.), and longstanding supporter of various humedica projects, once more did not hesitate to offer financial support and provided a substantial donation for the relief efforts and the provision of the refugees who stranded in Lempedusa and then found shelter at refugee camps.

Being assured of this basic financial support, Wolfgang Groß set out to Italy during his summer holiday, in order to talk to local relief assistants and to develop plans for specific support measures, which were finally put into operation together with employees of the Italian organisation Gioventu in Missione (GiM).

During his talks to the refugees, most of whom came from African countries, Wolfgang Groß learned a lot about their fates. Numerous of the men and women had been guest workers in Libya and had lost their jobs due to the war.

Fearing for their lives, and without sufficient means to return to their home countries, they decided to risk the often extremely dangerous crossing to Lampedusa in small boats. Before they could leave the country, Libyan customs officers often took their last valuable possessions, and hence most of the refugees fled, owning nothing more than the clothes they were wearing.

Wolfgang Groß and Enos Nolli in front of the GiM aid centre in Mineo (Sicily). Photo: humedica

The employees of GiM take care of the 2,000 inhabitants of a refugee camp near the city of Mineo in Sicily. They run a clothing store, have an open ear for the people in their every-day lives and offer them a possibility of communicating with their families in their home countries via the internet.

During the meetings, Enos Nolli, head of GiM, said that they needed a minibus for the assistants, and the vehicle will be handed over by humedica in February 2012 for use in the framework of these social services.

Furthermore, Wolfgang Groß returned to Germany with the urgent plea for 2,000 pairs of robust low shoes for the inhabitants of the refugee camp of Mineo. humedica found a committed supporter: the company Deichmann SE, which in the meantime runs 3,000 shoe retail shops worldwide, donated the urgently needed shoes with a value of more than 50,000 euros for 1,800 men, 150 women and 40 children. Shortly before Christmas 2011, the shoes were transported to Sicily free of charge by the international forwarding company Dachser GmbH&Co.KG from Kempten in the Allgäu region.

At the same time, a team of the organisation “Youth with a mission” from Hurlach travelled to the Mineo refugee camp in Sicily in order to distribute clothes and shoes, as well as some Christmas packages for the children.

After their return, the team members reported the deep gratitude of the people, many of whom were living in deep despair. The explicit feeling that they were not completely alone had given them a lot of solace and – besides the material goods they received – they also received encouragement.

In 1980, Wolfgang Groß, who back then was 26 years old, received the Order of Merit of the Republic of Italy. Photo: humedica/Wolfgang Groß

Relations between humedica and Italy have a long history. As early as in 1980, the year after the foundation of the organisation, humedica implemented the first disaster mission in the earthquake region surrounding the South Italian port city of Naples, and back then provided drugs, vaccines and wound dressing materials with a value of more than 100,000 DM for medical treatment of the earthquake victims. For this commitment, the acting president of Italy, Sandro Pertini, awarded Wolfgang Groß (then 26 years old), the title of a Cavalliere dell’Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana, as well as the Order of Merit of the Republic of Italy.

Two places – one objective

When many hands work together, when doors open and commitment and responsibility for others are given priority over everything else, measures such as those described above can be realised.

Charity in action – in two different ways, but with the same objective: that of supporting those who need our aid urgently. Please help us to finance this sector of relief supplies also in future by means of your donations. Thank you very much.

      humedica e. V.
      Donation reference “Relief supplies
      Account 47 47
      Bank Code 734 500 00
      Sparkasse Kaufbeuren

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