By Tom Vogt, reporter from The Columbian
As a Vancouver-based relief organization enlists volunteers and collects money to help earthquake victims in Nepal, the effort already has a crucial resource there: someone to work with.
Joe Anfuso said that Forward Edge International has had a relationship for about 30 years with an organization in Kathmandu, capital of the quake-shattered nation.
Forward Edge and its partner in Nepal have a shared interest in helping vulnerable children.
“We’ve had teams serve in Nepal in the past. It is so critically important to partner with someone credible who is local, who can coordinate recovery efforts,” said Anfuso, founder and president of Forward Edge.
Since the April 25 earthquake, “We’ve been raising funds for the response effort and recruiting people interested in serving in Nepal as volunteers,” Anfuso said. “We have more than 100 already.”
Nepal was rocked by another deadly quake on Tuesday, but that won’t affect the Forward Edge timetable. That’s because it has established itself as a “Phase 2″ relief agency.
“We’re not trying to be first responders. Our approach is go in after the first responders and media have moved on,” Anfuso said. “We won’t start sending teams until the end of summer and beginning of fall. Summer is the monsoon season. It’s a combination of waiting for the situation to settle and waiting on the weather.
“We will make a scouting trip to Nepal prior to sending teams, and firm up some of the projects.”
Volunteers “will be serving alongside local people. Their construction techniques are different than what a mason or carpenter is used to here,” Anfuso said. “People who are handy, with some construction skills, are good, but they will have to adapt and learn on the fly.”
Volunteers must pay their own travel expenses and a fee for food, lodging and transportation in Nepal. It’s a formula that has helped Forward Edge mobilize a lot of people over the years.
“We sent 3,000 volunteers to Hurricane Katrina, a thousand to Haiti” after the 2010 earthquake, Anfuso said.
Volunteers also have responded in recent years to a series of devastating floods and tornadoes in the United States.