Along with a co-worker I attended the IAEM Conference in Las Vegas in November. IAEM stands for International Association of Emergency Managers. World Wear Project attended the conference because we’d like to be the go-to company for those who need to deal with what frequently happens after a primary disaster.
After a disaster, well-meaning and generous people from all over the country donate shoes and clothing to those families who’ve been displaced by an unfortunate occurrence such as a fire, flood, hurricane or tornado. How this becomes a secondary disaster for the organizations working with the donations is that the community is inundated with so much in the way of donations that they can’t deal with all of it. They frequently lack storage space, and a lot of manpower is diverted from the primary disaster to handling the secondary disaster of administering the level of donations received. Sometimes the clothing becomes mildewed or damaged in some way and ends up in local landfills.
(AP Photo/Dave Martin) Read the article by the Associated Press.
Photo: Volunteers sort through donated clothing at a warehouse full of donated goods for tornado victims in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Many people affected by the disaster would prefer to have money so that they can purchase new items. This spending at local stores helps the community get back on its feet. We want to make these types of things possible by responding to the call for help by collecting the massive amounts of donations and turning them into available funds to be distributed to the community. We’ve got our own fleet of trucks so we can truck the donations away without tying up the trucking needed for the local area. We can help by keeping all those donations out of local landfills. Volunteers are freed up to help with the recovery effort, and storage facilities are available for other purposes.
We reached a lot of people in the emergency manager community with our message during the conference. In fact on the Disaster Zone blog on the Emergency Management website, author Eric Holdeman blogged about what we can provide he titled Avoiding the Landfill. We’re members of the IAEM and we’re here to help in a disaster.
My son was lucky enough in 2009 to travel to Tanzania with his dad to visit one of our customers in Tanzania. They flew into Arusha and visited marketplaces in and around the area. They then traveled to the mountainous northeast where Mount Kilimanjaro is located so that they could go on a guided photo safari and hike the mountain. There they came upon members of the Maasai tribe. The Maasai are a Nilotic ethnic group of semi-nomadic people located in Kenya and northern Tanzania. They are among the best known of African ethnic groups, due to their distinctive customs and dress and residence near the many game parks of East Africa. Many Maasai tribes throughout Tanzania and Kenya welcome visits to their village to experience their culture, traditions, and lifestyle. Upon meeting some of the tribesmen they came upon one man who was wearing a baseball cap, and were surprised to see it was one very familiar to them.
Needless to say this gentleman didn’t have any idea what type of ball cap he was wearing. They tried to explain it to him, but, not surprisingly, he still didn’t seem to understand. This experience was definitely an example of how shoes, clothing, hats and caps can make their way from closets in the U.S., and in this instance, likely the closet of a North Texan, to find a new life halfway around the world in a village in Tanzania. That cap is definitely performing a service for this gentleman in such a sunny place, and he seems to be wearing it very proudly.