Andres Medina works with his fellow staff and volunteers to prepare an aid delivery for people affected by the recent floods in Peru. They know what’s needed, and where they’re going. At dusk, heat in the muddy streets of Huarmey drops, but the mosquitos wake up. Andres, 29, is a volunteer of the Red Cross branch in the province. In an hour he has a meeting with the local Emergency Operation Center will start, he will work into the night, finally getting some rest at 1am. “That’s the way it is, the emergency does not follow working hours,” he said.
At dawn, the sky is completely clear, the engines of the first motorcycle taxis break the silence. To that noise is added the roar of the Red Cross truck carrying humanitarian aid. Volunteers and technicians are already in the area, and at 8am the distribution will begin. “I’m excited, it’s this kind of feeling that caught me when I first joined the Red Cross,” Andres said.
In Peru more than 2,000 volunteers have been deployed to support the flood emergency, most of them are young and dedicated. Andrés coordinates some of the operation and guides the work of other young people in this zone.
People – mainly mothers – are starting to arrive by 7am. Andres visits each delivery point, organizes the queue, checks the registration point, and is always available to attend to the concerns of the people who continue to arrive at the distribution. By 8am, more than two thousand people are lining up. 600 families – identified by an earlier census – will receive hygiene kits, cooking kits, water, chlorine and other supplies.
As the day wears on, the temperature rises. One of the volunteers dealing with breakfast for staff goes to Andres and pulls him by the arm so he can go to breakfast. “If you do not remember, you can spend all day without eating…”, she told him. Andres walks quickly to the breakfast place, serves himself hot oatmeal with cookies, and is quickly back to work.
“The people are tense,” he said. “If something does not go well, it can be difficult.”
The team, made up of both staff and volunteers, work hard through the day supporting the seemingly never ending line of individuals and families. But slowly the line goes down, and by 3pm, Andres and his team can begin to pack away and begin to prepare for the next day in the flood response.