Located in La Patera Lane, Santa Barbara Direct Relief works as a nonprofit organization that works independently from the government and aside from any sectarian institution. The organization is dedicated to providing assistance to anyone, regardless its political view, origin, religious beliefs, gender or ethnic identity.
In this article Kenny Slaught will share some information related to this nonprofit dedicated to helping individuals and communities who have been victims of disasters, both in the United States and the world.
A BIT OF HISTORY
History dates back to 1945 when William Zimdin –a wealthy Estonian immigrant- decided to help his family, friends and former employees who had been victims of the war back in Europe. His contribution aimed to help them rebuild their lives after World War II. He always contributed and supported those who needed him by offering direct and respectful assistance. This characteristic has been key to the foundation’s mission since day one.
Founded in 1948 as Direct Relief Foundation – a Santa Barbara-based nonprofit. Direct Relief has helped thousands of families who have been victims of any type of disaster, whether it is a natural disaster or war, the organization is there to help individuals recover and improve their life quality.
In 1951, the foundation’s name was changed to Direct Relief International and aimed to provide postwar support and assistance to people living in vulnerable conditions inside and outside the U.S. This is how a revolving loan fund was created to support refugees with grants that could allow them to start a new life. This grant program worked until the 1960’s but the organization kept on doing their job in different nations around the globe.
Along the years, Direct Relief has clearly defined its role as a leader in providing medical assistance to different communities, including indigenous communities living in the United States. All this happens thanks to the fact that the nonprofit’s mission is to serve the disadvantaged living in poor medical conditions around the world. This is why in 1962, Direct Relief became licensed as a wholesale pharmacy and could secure prescription medicines for use outside the United States.
Since day one, this nonprofit has served different communities and refugee populations in different countries. Today, the organization provides medical resources to other nonprofits that work locally to supply their communities with medical resources. This is how Direct Relief has presence not only in Santa Barbara but in every state of the U.S and in more than 70 countries.
Potential risks and circumstances change from one community to another. Being aware of this idea allows Direct Relief to provide assistance programs tailor-made to the particular needs and conditions of some of the world’s most affected populations. Programs focused on child health, the prevention and treatment of particular diseases and training communities on how to be prepared and respond to an emergency are key to support vulnerable groups of people all over the globe.
- A Focus on Health: Direct Relief aims to break a vicious circle that affects any community in the world: if you are poor and sick and don’t get the treatment you need, you won’t be able to work. If you are not able to work, you will get poor or stay poor, and people who don’t have the resources to take care of their health will have a higher risk of getting sick again.
Changing this vicious cycle is a difficult task that implies changing the way health services work allowing people to have access to them since they are essential to community development. This is why, Direct Relief takes action in communities with poor health resources and tries to meet all the challenging needs of individuals related to the diagnosis, treatment, and caring of patients regardless of their religion, race, politics or capacity to pay.
- Maternal and Child Health: Direct Relief understands that healthy mother will be the center of healthy families and productive communities. Sadly, mothers and children are some of the most vulnerable populations in every poor community in the world. Their health conditions during pregnancy and childbirth are highly and disproportionately poor. This makes it critical to have access to medical assistance and care. Which, in the end, has a direct impact on the way communities are formed and how healthy they are.
- Disease Prevention and Treatment: In order to be able to cover more areas, Direct Relief has partnered up with other organizations. This way, it is can provide health assistance in the prevention and addressing of diabetes and HIV/AIDS. Helping communities that have a higher risk of suffering from these diseases in the United States and other regions.
- Emergency Preparedness and Response: As every day there are many emergencies taking place in different parts of the world, Direct Relief needs to respond as fast as it can. However, sometimes it is not that easy to be effective in the respond. This is why the organization has created numerous programs to train people on the things they need to do to save their lives if a catastrophe is taking place.