Numana has mobilized more than 120,000 volunteers coast-to-coast and packaged and sent more than 20 million meals to disaster victims in Haiti. Several Rotary clubs in Kansas have already hosted successful events with Numana in 2010. Courtesy photo
By ROBERT PIERCE
In January, the country of Haiti was struck by a catastrophic earthquake about 16 miles west of Port-au-Prince. The earthquake was estimated to have killed 230,000 people and injured another 300,000, with yet 1 million more left homeless.
On Dec. 29, 2009, volunteers with Numana, a non-profit group based out of El Dorado were scheduled to deliver food to Balan, Haiti, but because of a snow storm in Iowa, where the food was being shipped from, the container was stuck in the snow.
While waiting for the package to ship, the earthquake hit, and this is when volunteers from Numana heard from officials with another non-profit agency.
“The Salvation Army called us up and said ‘We know you’ve got this container of food. We know you’d like to have it going to the school system, but could we use it for disaster relief?’” said Darrel Herde, event coordinator with Numana. “We said certainly, please do. They asked how many more meals we could pack.”
To celebrate the one-year anniversary of that delivery, on Dec. 29, members of the Rotary Club in El Dorado, District No. 5690 Rotarians and the Rotary Club in Liberal are partnering with Numana in a service project phenomenon.
The event “Rotary and Friends Feed Haiti,” will take place from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 29 at the El Dorado Civic Center. The goal of the event on the 29th is to package a container of food – 261,000 meals – to send to the Rotary Club Cap-Haitien, Haiti, for distribution in Lambert, Haiti, near the north coast.
“That’s how many meals you can pack in a 53-foot semi,” Herde said referring to the goal of 261,000. “We truck everything out there on pallets, raw products, 50-pound bags of soy, rice, vitamins. The volunteers come in. They get around tables, and they stick certain measurements and cups of those items into a bag. We weigh them, seal them, box them and put them on a pallet, put them on a truck, bring them back to our warehouse in El Dorado and ship it from there.”
Herde said the shipment on the 29th will put Numana at more than 21 million meals packaged for this year.
“We’ve been blessed to have more than 122,000 volunteers be a part of that across the nation,” he said.
Numana is an international hunger relief organization, founded about two years go as 501(c)3 non-profit. Herde said the Dec. 29 event was the brain child of Rotarian Rick McNary.
“He was a pastor for 20 years,” Herde said. “Over that 20-year-period, he began taking a number of trips down to Nicaragua and different places in the Third World. On one of those trips, he really got exposed to not just hunger, but starvation first hand.”
During one of his trips, McNary met a young girl who had crawled on to his lap and began searching through his pockets for food.
“He came back from that experience nine years ago and just was determined to see what was being done to address the starvation issues throughout the world,” Herde said. “Along those same lines, he was a Rotarian in El Dorado and developed a relationship with Rotary in District 5690.”
In his talks with Rotary, McNary discussed sending a container of food down to the Haitian people for Rotarians to hand out to the needy and starving.
“They’ve had a number of people come up out of Port-au-Prince, and a number of refugees began to camp in those areas,” Herde said. “There’s just nowhere to live in the cities, so they’ve moved out into rural areas looking for aide and just anything they can.”
Herde said Numana wanted to volunteer with Rotary, which has as one of its core values addressing hunger problems across the world.
“It’s just a great partnership we’ve developed with them in getting this done on Dec. 29 in El Dorado,” he said.
Herde said volunteers are needed to help with packing.
“We would love to have anybody who would like to come out and pack some meals and provide some of the funding necessary to pay for the meals,” he said.
Herde said during a recent visit to Haiti, he saw the dire conditions that exist in the country.
“They have no opportunity to grow very much there,” he said. “They’re dependent upon foreign aide. The country’s just been ravaged. It’s been deforested, and the earthquake came and just made matters worse.”
Herde said because of the earthquake, an estimated 1 million to 1.5 million people have been displaced living in tent cities or any structures they can find.
“It is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere,” he said. “It’s in the top five of the world as far as food insecurity is concerned. Because it’s such a dire need that was so close to home is why it was chosen.”
Herde said Numana still has a great partnership with the Salvation Army.
“The reason we partner with the Salvation Army is because they operate schools throughout the Third World,” he said. “One of the things Rick McNary found out as he was researching starvation and hunger issues throughout the world is the best way to help break the cycle of poverty is to educate the children. So what better way than putting food in the schools, which encourages the children to come in? Not only do they get fed, they get an education as well.”
Funds are also currently needed to pay for product and shipping expenses. Those interested in providing financial assistance can mail donations made out to Numana to Rotary Event, c/o Numana, P.O. Box 572, El Dorado, KS 67042.
Herde said online donations can also be made.
“They can go to our Web site at www.numanainc.com, and there’s a place where they can donate right online,” he said. “We would love for them to help. We are wanting to raise close to $80,000 in order to pay for these containers.”
To pre-register for the event, please visit www.numanainc.com/rotary. For more information about the event on Dec. 29, contact Herde at 316-841-3090 or e-mail