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Posted By Weretaw Berhanu, Project HOPE's logistics expert and veteran of disaster response worldwide on September 14, 2017

Labels: Americas , United States , Disaster-Relief, Humanitarian Aid, Volunteers

Weretaw Berhanu, a logistics expert and veteran of disaster response worldwide at work in Houston.

Weretaw filed this story from Houston, where he has helped manage HOPE’s response to Hurricane Harvey.

Project HOPE’s approach to disaster response reminds me of my wonderful mother from Ethiopia. She knew how to do a lot of good with the limited resources she had. With my father’s $50 monthly salary, she was able to feed, clothe and do other things for our family of nine (seven kids and my parents). Growing up in Ethiopia, and later in life, when I started earning my own money, it puzzled me how my poor mother was able to do so much with the limited sum of money she managed each month. I was not able to make ends meet with what I earned, which was substantially more than what my mother had. I concluded that my mother had no other option but to accomplish a lot with her meager resources and so she did. Simply put, she was very resourceful.

     And this same sense of determination and careful calculation to achieve the most we can with the resources we have is what I have been witnessing at work with Project HOPE.

I have managed the logistics of disaster response around the world and at times we have had to achieve what seemed impossible. I have seen that Project HOPE knows how to stretch each dollar and do a lot of good with limited resources during a time of great need. I have also learned that you need more than just a fat bank account to do good in this world. Project HOPE’s response to Hurricane Harvey in Texas is a good example of this.  As part of the HOPE team here in Houston and with other disasters further afield, I have learned that with good will, a smart plan and resourcefulness, we can accomplish a great deal -- people’s health issues can be addressed, health workers can gain knowledge, medicines can be administered and people struggling in a crisis can be heard.

It all comes from a desire to make a difference. It comes from good will and a desire to serve others.

Since I joined Project HOPE two years ago, I have been part of the team that responded to the earthquake in Ecuador, Hurricane Matthew in Haiti and now Hurricane Harvey in Texas. What I’ve come to understand is that, like my mother in Ethiopia, somehow Project HOPE has figured out how to make each dollar count and find ways to partner with other NGOs to help achieve what might seem impossible. When I see the number of lives touched and transformed by what Project HOPE is doing here in Houston and around Houston, I come back to my original question: “How can someone do such a lot of good, when there are so many needs, despite resource limitations?”

For more than 20 years I worked for large-scale global organizations with access to significant resources. They are also doing a lot of good for humanity, but what makes Project HOPE’s disaster response approach unique and intriguing is the organization’s ability to impact so many lives with health services provided by HOPE volunteers who never tire of this work, finding ways and partners to fix a problem at a clinic or hospital – all of this while making every dollar count.  I am of the opinion that just as my mother figured out how to create miracles with so little, Project HOPE has figured out how to do the same thing.  

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