Eager to learn more about how our lights are used in communities affected by Cyclone Idai, we were lucky to have the opportunity to speak with Jeremy Williamson, an International Deployment Manager with Convoy of Hope.
As we learned from our discussion with Jeremy, monitoring situations and communities is an important first step to initiating the relief process before disasters even occur. Sitting in Convoy of Hope’s operations center, Jeremy explained how he and his team are able to make use of data and weather reports to identify points of concern. In the case of what would eventually become Cyclone Idai, Jeremy remarks on how they had already begun to monitor Mozambique and areas of Malawi because of concerns over food security caused by mild draught. As they were keeping an eye on these conditions, Jeremy and his team began to notice the effects of a small storm in southern Malawi, which had caused regional flooding before moving out into the Indian Ocean. After gaining in strength and size, it returned from the ocean as a fully formed cyclone.
Once a situation is deemed to be critical, Jeremy describes how Convoy of Hope collaborates and communicates with partner organizations already on the ground to collect the most accurate information in order to best serve community needs.
As a first response, the most basic needs are prioritized: food, hygiene, water, wash, and shelter are distributed by Convoy of Hope, especially to communities overlooked or less effectively served by their partners.
Jeremy also explained the exceptional effectiveness of LuminAID’s solar lanterns in illuminating large campsites and villages darkened by the loss of electricity. The waterproof nature of the solar lamps allow for travel along paths even during the most rainy nights.
One of the most poignant moments was when Jeremy brought up how our lights raised the morale of affected villagers in displaced communities. Being able to charge their phones and contact separated family members under a strong and steady light does wonders for the general sense of well-being for those affected by the cyclone.
LuminAID has been partnering with Convoy of Hope since 2016, and the organization has distributed LuminAID lights in 13 countries to date, including Lebanon, Haiti, and Peru. Our co-founders, Anna and Andrea, also traveled with the team from Convoy of Hope to Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria, and the trip was featured on a Shark Tank update that aired in 2017. We are extremely happy to partner with Convoy of Hope in order to continue our mission to share light around the world.