What We’re Working On Now

Jon Ross on Mar 28th 2017

7-19-17
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MicroAid is working on another project in Nepal.  We’re doing a home repair for another earthquake-survivor family in the Kathmandu Valley town of Bhaktapur.  additionally, we are raising money for more projects in Nepal and other projects around the world.

 

exterior front gyamaru

Even though it looks OK from the outside, the interior walls and floors were severely damaged by the 2015 earthquake.

gyamaru ceiling before

MicroAid is reinforcing the walls and adding a center structural support column, and repairing the floors and ceilings.

gyamaru floor repair 1

gyamaru ceiling repair 1

Many homes were destroyed in the earthquake in 2015 (we built a new home from the ground up in 2016), but many others were so damaged that they were unsafe to live in.

Earlier this year, MicroAid repaired a house for one family, so that they could live in a safe home and get back to their normal life.  Now we are continuing that work.

 

Please make a donation to help us in this important process.

http://microaidinternational.org/donate.php

 

Thank you.
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2-11-17
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MicroAid is working on our second project in Nepal, headed by MicroAid’s new in-country project manager, Nabina Duwal.
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We are conductig the repair of a multi-story family home in heart of Bhaktapur, the historic Newar capital in the urban Kathmandu Valley, for the Syma family.
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The father of our beneficiary family died last year and left his wife and their two kids to fend for themselves. MicroAid vetted the situation to find out that they have no extended family and no other recourse.
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The back wall of their house crumbled (pictured above) during the Gorkha earthquake in 2015, and they have been living in the bottom two rooms of the house ever since. The structure was completely unsafe, but they had nowhere else to go.
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MicroAid is replacing the entire back wall, windows, and doors, and shoring up the internal walls and floors, while re-enforcing the supporting beams and removing the dangerous wooden balconies. (new back wall, below)
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We also had an independent engineer from Kathmandu, look at the project, and we determined that we should also eliminate the entire top floor to reduce the overall load and make the building safe for future quakes—and for future generations of the Syma family.
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Nabina is doing an awesome job keeping the project on schedule and on budget as MicroAid’s newest program manager.  By hiring Nabina, we have given another person in Nepal much needed employment—she is the oldest child in her family and is responsible for taking care of her parents and sisters. Her job with MicroAid will help her entire family.
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MicroAid is also continuing to prep for a project in Paraguay, where, over the last few years, torrential flooding has caused the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people. We are assessing the best course of action to help re-build some homes for flood-survivor families—probably in the capital of Asuncion (pictured flooded, below).
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Thank you for your support.
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1-27-17

           MicroAid is starting the new year by “scaling up.”

 

Over the years, many of you have asked how we are going to expand the organization and help more people.  While I was in Nepal last year, I worked with a very capable interpreter /assistant, Nabina Duwal. During that job, and since my return to the U.S., I’ve been training her to run a small project on her own—Nabina will be MicroAid’s first in-country project manager.  She will be coordinating a modest-sized home repair for an earthquake-survivor family.  I will be in daily contact with her, making sure the project is done efficiently and completely—the MicroAid way.  Our new MicroAid Nepal project manager is the first step toward expanding our work.

 

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Meanwhile, I will be focusing on flood survivors in Paraguay, where an international real estate firm has invited MicroAid to partner with them to help rebuild homes.  I will lead a MicroAid disaster recovery project and oversee home construction for survivor families.  Also in the works are future projects in Nicaragua and Ecuador.

 

Now, more than ever, it’s important to continue to be generous, compassionate, and tolerant. Here at MicroAid, with your help, we will.

 

I hope 2017 is treating you well, so far.  Wishing you all the best in 2017… and beyond.

 

5-29-16
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Building a house for Gorkha Earthquake survivors (April 2015) in Bhaktapur, Nepal.
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When the family settled here many generations ago, the area was a rural hamlet outside of Kathmandu. Their simple mud and stone house was one of the first. The family was/is in the tailor caste, making clothes, curtains, bedding, etc. for the local community. Over the years, due to ready-made options, their business had dwindled and they became poor. A few years ago, the father died, leaving the mother to take care of her two sons, six daughters, and many grandkids. Then came the earthquake, which brought down their house.
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Most of the reconstruction attention is on the mountains and the villages, but so many people around Kathmandu suffered and lost their homes.  MicroAid is building a house for this family —in a decidedly urban environment—because they would not receive help otherwise.  That’s the MicroAid way.

2-16-16
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I am leaving on March 2nd for Nepal, where in April, 2015, the magnitude-7.8 Gorka earthquake killed 8,000 people and destroyed 650,000 homes, affecting more than a million survivors.

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Over the last months, I have been contacting people there, and here, who were involved with the disaster response—because it was so widespread, that means almost anyone who lives in Nepal or has a connection to the place. I have also been studying construction techniques for building earthquake resistant homes using local materials, and connecting with a variety of other NGOs with innovative strategies.

Even a year after the earthquake, the situation in Nepal is dire. Due to a terrible convergence of government inaction, a fuel and materials blockade along the Indian border, and the magnitude of the damage, very little has been done to help the survivors who lost their homes.

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MicroAid will be going in with the same philosophy that has led to our helping so many families in the past: “Just because you can’t help everyone, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t help someone.”

I will be assessing the situation in about a dozen villages in the earthquake affected zone—from Pokhara to Khumbu—to see how best to use our resources and help the most people. We might rebuild a few houses for families, or provide construction tools and building materials for an entire village.

Thank you for being a part of this humanitarian effort and good will. We are making a huge impact on people’s lives—directly, efficiently, and completely.
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11-25-15
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Currently, I am laying the groundwork for home reconstruction projects in Nepal (Gorkha earthquake, April 2015). Things are pretty chaotic there, still, with a newly ratified constitution, and many large NGOs vying for materials and labor and photo ops. But I have met with a number of people, either Nepalese or with connections to the situation, and have started to map out a strategy and raise money to help survivor families and maybe even an entire small village. I will do an assessment trip in a few months, then do the rebuilding in the fall of 2016.
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In the coming year, I will be training other project managers, so that we can have multiple projects going at the same time. In the course of my work, I have run across a few candidates with the right skills, experience, and attitude, to work the way we do: directly, efficiently, and independently. As you can imagine, finding people like that is not an easy task. (Please let me know if you know of anyone who might be a good fit.) Also, I will formalize our advisory board, and officially acknowledge the behind-the-scenes experts—medical, construction, media, etc.—who help me when I am in the field, and at home. And we will be welcoming at least one new member to the board of directors.

Additionally, MicroAid will be doing fundraising campaigns through crowdfunding platforms, as well as continuing to approach foundations for grants, and encouraging individuals to donate what they can. As you know, in the places we work, every dollar makes a big impact.

MicroAid still guarantees that 100 percent of donations go toward helping those in need—to the recovery projects in the field. Overhead is funded by the board of directors, certain foundation grants, and specific individual donors.

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Thank you for the supports,

Jon

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6-30-15
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The houses in the Philippines are done and I am back in the USA raising money for the next MicroAid projects.
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The families in the Philippines are so happy now that they have solid homes that will withstand future storms and last for generations to come.
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Betty’s site  – MicroAid construction under way.

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Two new homes for Betty and her family.

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Betty’s family in front of completed MicroAid homes

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Pedro's compound construction underway

Pedro’s compound construction underway.

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Two new homes for Pedro and his family.

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Pedro’s family in front of their new MicroAid houses

As you know, all donations go toward the projects; overhead is paid by me and the board of directors. And once a project is started, I don’t leave the field until it is complete.

That’s what sets MicroAid apart from all the other disaster nonprofits: we help people directly, efficiently, and completely.

Now, we’re working on raising money for the next projects in Nicaragua, Indonesia, and Nepal.

Thank you for the support.
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Jon Ross
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5-15-15
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I am in Omawas, Philippines, on the east coast of the island of Samar. An area that is in the direct path of Pacific typhoons. Especially Haiyan (2013) and Ruby this past year.

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I want to update you on the good work we are doing building permanent houses for survivors, and remind you that we stay focused on areas after the world’s attention has moved on. (Rest assured that MicroAid will go to Nepal down the road, when the earthquake survivors will still need our help.)

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As with all disasters, here in the Philippines, years later, there are many people who have not received assistance.

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MicroAid is building house for two families whose homes were destroyed by the typhoons.
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Please see my “blog from the field” for details and pictures.
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Thank you.
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Jon Ross
Founder/Program manager
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3-15-15
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Even though Cyclone Pam recently devastated the islands of Vanuatu, we are raising $50,000 to help typhoon survivors in the Philippines.
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That’s why I started MicroAid International: to stay focused on survivors of disasters even though the world’s attention, and resources, have moved on.  And that’s why you support MicroAid—why we will help the people of Vanuatu when all the other aid organizations have gone home.
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Many of the news stories about Cyclone Pam are comparing it to Typhoon Haiyan—the “super-storm” (the strongest recorded on the planet) that slammed into the Philippines in 2013.
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I am going to the Philippines in May to help survivors of that disaster.  I will be rebuilding houses and replacing people’s tools to help them return to self-sufficiency, because, believe it or not, there are millions (yes, millions) of people there who still need our help.  (Typhoon Haiyan killed more than 6,000 people and displaced more than four million!)
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I hope you will make a donation to support MicroAid’s work in the Philippines, and also in Vanuatu.
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No other organization stays focused on the long-term recovery the way that we do: directly, efficiently, and completely.
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(Please forward this to anyone you know who might also be willing to support us.)
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Thank you.
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Sincerely,
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Jon Ross
Founder/Program manager
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1-5-15
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I am back from the assessment trip in Myanmar (Burma)—re. Cyclone Nargis, 2008—just in time to wish everyone a Happy New Year.
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As your representative in the field, I work hard to identify survivors who are still in need years after the disaster   It is my job to find people who would not be helped otherwise and not to duplicate the efforts of other organizations—that’s the MicroAid way.  We don’t want to use our funds to do something that would be done anyway.  Our beneficiaries have no other recourse.
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Since donations are only spent on projects—overhead is covered by me, the board of directors, and select foundation grants—those resources are only used when I think they can help the right people under the right circumstance in the most efficient way.
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“Everyone leaves Burma exhausted.”  That’s what the country director of a giant international aid organization told me one day during a meeting.  And he was right; Myanmar is a complex work environment.  It was, by far, the most difficult place I’ve had to navigate.
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I thought I was going to be able to combine the assessment trip with a project, but that turned out to be futile.  A combination of politics, accessibility, and just plain bad luck convinced me to come back and to preserve MicroAid’s resources for another country—we will prep a project in the Philippines for 2015.  They have had a series of typhoons in recent years—the most devastating being Typhoon Haiyan in 2013.
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As for the survivors of Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar, and other people in need, there is a huge international humanitarian-aid presence in Myanmar—it is “the” place to be for nonprofit organizations, in addition to for-profit developers, and tourists —every giant NGO from Oxfam and Save the Children to Medecins Sans Frontiers and WorldVision are in the country with huge budgets and staff.  I was able to arrange for one of them to look into the situations that I found in the delta, but was unable to gain authorization to help.
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MicroAid was able to provide one village clinic in the Nargis-affected area with a water purification/filtration solution, and hope that it will set the example for future use of locally-made clay-pot filters.
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There may be other opportunities to help in Myanmar, but we will focus on the Philippines for 2015.
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2-3-14

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We are preparing for the next MicroAid disaster recovery project in Myanmar (Burma).

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You may recall that Cyclone Nargis devastated the Irrawaddy delta in 2008.
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85,000 people were killed, 53,000 went missing, and more than 2.4 million people were affected, most losing their homes and tools.  In the wake of the cyclone, it was reported that all the water buffalo, used to pull the plows, drowned.
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There continues to be great need among the survivors—for housing, farming equipment, and other necessities .  I have been making contact with local groups and individuals who will help us identify people we can help, and work out logistics.  I hope to go there in April to make an on-the-ground assessment.
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Myanmar (formerly Burma) is run by a military government.  It is one of the most isolated countries in the world, where the general population suffers on many levels.
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It will be the most difficult place we have worked, but I hope we can help a few families return to self-sufficiency.
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8-26-13

The house for the Ormachea-Hermoza family in Urubamba, Peru, is done!

It was a big project for us, and a life-changing event for them.

As you know, the family lost their adobe home in the floods of 2010, and had been living in a shack ever since.
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MicroAid stayed focused on the area and helped the family return to self-sufficiency.  With a roof over their heads they can concentrate on working, educating the kids, and health issues.
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Please look at our blog from the field and completed projects sections for details about the project.
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Currently we are raising money for the next MicroAid project.
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7-8-13

Ormachea-Hermoza new home construction as of July 2013

Continuing to build a new home for the Ormachea-Hermoza family whose adobe house was destroyed by the floods in 2010—when the raging waters of the Vilconota river in the Sacred Valley of Peru wiped out more than 25,000 structures.

first we cleared the site of the makeshift tents and wooden shanties

then we poured wall foundations and set rebar for columns

columns and walls going up

pouring concrete for the roof

Jon Ross oversees every aspect of the project and budget and stays until it is finished

This family of 12 was particularly deserving and MicroAid committed to replace their house so that their children would have a warm, well-lit place to do their homework, and the adults could return to work without worrying about the family living in an over-crowded, drafty, unsecured dwelling.

a few members of the Ormachea-Hermoza family

Dozens of extended family members will benefit from the home.

some of the extended Ormachea-Hermoza family

One of the features of the MicroAid  philosophy is that we stay till the project is done.  I have extended my trip to accomodate the longer construction schedule and will be here for the home’s completion.

Jon Ross setting form

For more details about the project, and more pictures, please look at my “blog from the field.”

Thank you for all the support.

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5-8-13

In the Sacred Valley of Peru starting the home constructions for survivor-families of the 2010 floods.

Meeting with builders and local coordinators to make the plans, hire the workers, and begin helping people return to self-sufficiency.  More on the “Blog from the Field.” Click on “Home” above.

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1-16-13

A quick trip back to Samoa to help our lttle canoe village of Matafa’a after a devastating cyclone struck the island in December.  All electric was wiped out, their water system compromised, and most of their crops destroyed.  I am here with solar chargers for their cell phones, so they can call their relatives; a water filtration system, so they can drink purified water from the river; and 200 pounds of donated clothing.  Although MicroAid does not normally do “emergency response,” no one esle was helping and we have a connection to this wonderful group of people.

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11-21-12

Here in the Sacred Valley of Peru, I am doing project assessments for survivors of the devastating floods of 2010.  As usual, after the emergency response and the relief organizations have left, MicroAid steps in to help people get back into permanent housing and return to self-sufficiency.

Already, I have identified situations where we can help.  Many families are still without homes after theirs were washed away in the floods.

living in an uninsulated tent since 2010

In the town of Huacarpay, there is a particularly sad situation where an older couple has been living in a wooden box since they lost their adobe home two years ago.  They have no chance of rebuilding on their own and no other options.  This is a situation where we can build them a modest home and they can return to a relatively dignified and comfortable existence.  Other situations in Ollantaytambo and Urumbamba are equally desperate.  It looks like we can help some families there as well.

no place to turn for the old couple living in this box

In a couple of weeks, I will return to the U.S. to wait out the rainy season. I will come back here in the Spring of 2013 to do the construction.  Between now and then, I will be coordinating with the local NGOs and builders I have met here and planning the work.

Of course, the board and I will be raising the money to complete these construction projects for these worthy disaster survivors.  So please don’t forget to make a donation as part of your year-end charitable giving.

We have so much to be thankful for in the U.S., even in the wake of our own disasters, that we have resources and organizations that are there to help.  The people here have no such options.

I am happy that we created MicroAid to help them live better lives.

Thanks you for your encouragement and support.

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10-9-12

2012 was a good year for MicroAid, we completed the projects in Samoa (canoes and fishing kits), helped hundreds of people, and garnered quite a bit of good press.

Currently, we  are preparing a November site-assessment trip to Peru—they have had devastating floods and mudslides the past few years, and hundreds of people have lost their homes.  Hopefully, we can identify a few families that we can help return to self-sufficiency—we’ll repair or rebuild their homes or replace their tools of livelihood.  The project will take place in Spring 2013, after the rainy season.  Of course, when we go to do the work, we will stay until it is complete.

On the fundraising front, since MicroAid is now three years old, and has a impressive track record of completed projects, we are starting to approach foundations for grant money.  It is a tough economic environment, but I am confident that we will receive some grants.  Until then, we still rely solely on your generosity and that of the board of directors.  As you know, 100% of all donations go toward programs, while the board covers our overhead expenses.

Thank you for all your support.

Please follow the blog for updates from the field.

 

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4-24-12

All the Samoa tsunami recovery projects are complete.  See “Completed Projects” for details and more pictures.  Day-to-day reports and photos can be seen on the “Blog from the Field”

canoes for Matafa’a village

fishing kits for Salea’aumua village

Now MicroAid is raising funds for post-disaster recovery work in Burma, Peru, Central America, and Haiti.

Please donate now so we can continue to help victims of disasters after the world’s attention has moved on.

Thank you.

Jon Ross

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3-12-12

Jon Ross is in Samoa working on disaster recovery projects (tsunami 2009).  Living in the remote village of Matafaa, he is helping build canoes to replace ones lost in the tsunami 2009. Follow his progress in his “Blog From the Field” by clicking the “home” button above.

with felled tree for canoe

even in the wake of a disaster no lack of scenic views in Samoa

11-30-2011

This fall, MicroAid was chosen by a Pepperdine University nonprofit leadership class to be one of their real-life charities to receive student-consultant advice.  The team from the university is helping prepare a Peru disaster assessment, so we can help victims of the terrible flooding that has devastated the Cusco region in recent years.
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Hotels and buildings by the Vilcanota river after torrential rains in Machu Picchu.
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On the cyber-front, MicroAid is beefing up its social media presence.  I will soon send out a specific email about following us on Twitter, friending us on Facebook, and connecting to me on LinkedIn.  We already have pages and accounts set up, so if you use these tools please feel free to “follow,” “friend,” and “connect” with MicroAid International.
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12-25-2010

Jon Ross recently returned from Samoa where there is post-tsunami recovery work to be done.  The village of Matafaa on the southwest coast needs a dozen canoes replaced so that the children can get across the bay to the school and the village can bring their produce to market.  In other villages on the southeast there were water tanks delivered, but no roof-top collection systems provided.  MicroAid will help out about twenty situations like this.  MicroAid is raising $35,000 for Samoa recovery projects.

canoe – matafaa village southwest upolu samoa

matafaa bay that needs to be crossed for school and market

matafaa village minister & wife

Last year in Sri Lanka MicroAid built a house for a tsunami family in Hambantota, and completed and secured (installed windows and doors) for two other families in Batticaloa.  MicroAid also funded the scholarships for two tsunami orphans.  Please look at the “Completed Projects” section for a concise recap.

Look at the “Blog from the Field” for detailed descriptions of Samoa and more pictures.

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MicroAid continues to raise money for additional projects related to the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean and the subsequent 2009 earthquakes in Indonesia, the 2008 cyclone in Burma (Myanmar), the 2009 tidal wave in Samoa, the 2010 mudslides in Cusco, Peru, and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

Please see “Where We Work” “Worldwide” for details.

MicroAid gives no-strings-attached humanitarian aid and hands-on assistance to:

Sponsor orphans’ education

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Build houses

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Replace tools of livelihood

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Build community/evacuation centers

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All donations go directly to helping those in need.  Overhead is funded separately by the MicroAid board of directors. Thank you.

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