Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Accenture Employee Uses Aidmatrix Virtual Aid Drive to Deliver Relief to Medellin, Columbia Flood Victims

Ana Herrera-Malone goes home to Colombia to help families in flood and mudslide aftermath

When Ana Herrera-Malone returned to her native Colombia in December and visited the villages near her hometown of Medellin, she saw firsthand the devastation caused by flooding and mudslides that had ravaged much of the area.

Ana came prepared to deliver as much assistance as she could from the donations she collected from her family, and friends, as well as her Accenture colleagues via Aidmatrix. She arrived in Medellin on December 15, and met up with her husband David a week later, traveling to the town of Bello where a mudslide had swept away from 50 homes and killed 88 people.

Accompanied by her sister who lives in Colombia, Ana delivered clothing, food and toys to residents in the area where the tragedy occurred. They met one woman who had lost three family members in the mudslide.

“It was amazing how much they appreciated not only the help but the fact that we came and spent time with them,” Ana says.

They found more families in need on the mountainside near Medellin, praying and singing with them and leaving groceries and presents to make their holiday season a little brighter.

“Although I was born in Medellin (now a resident of Dallas, Texas) and have seen a lot of poverty, this was a painful reminder of how people live in these poor neighborhoods, how little they have and how much we could do to help them,” says Ana, noting that Colombia experienced perhaps its worst-ever rainy season, causing destruction across the country.

Stitching a family business back together
Not far from Medellin, Ana learned of a husband and wife named Wilmer and Fabiola who had lost their home and all of the shoemaking equipment they used to run their modest business to the mudslide. Ana purchased them a sewing machine, leather, glue and the needed supplies to get their business re-started.

“Thinking about what Mother Theresa once said, ‘If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one,’ I decided to use the remaining funds to help Wilmer and Fabiola and try to make a significant impact on their lives,” Ana says. “We later learned that Fabiola has cancer and is undergoing treatment. She never mentioned it or complained. Her only concern was to find a way to feed her kids and get back on their feet.”

Ana collected about $2,000, and hopes to continue her fundraising and return to Colombia to help the people return to a life of normalcy.

List of items purchased
Groceries for 50 families
Clothes and toys for more than 20 families living in a shelter
Bought the sewing machine for the shoe-making couple
Leather, glue and materials for the shoe makers
Groceries and basic household items for the shoe makers

More information
Aidmatrix Medellin Disaster Relief

Related article
100 more bodies believed trapped in landslide

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