Category: Emergencies

Giant cauliflower harvest: hard work and hard cash pay off in Nepal

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Gyan Maharajan stands next to her cauliflower harvest - the vegetable is so big that its leaves are as tall as she is

Gyan Maharajan and her huge cauliflower harvest in Nepal, @British Red Cross/Paul Wu

Getting ready to harvest your autumn fruit and vegetables?

Many of us are now busy in our garden or allotment. Others are taking the easier route and enjoying some fresh produce from the supermarket or grocer.

Either way, we can all take a moment to appreciate Gyan Maharjan’s bumper cauliflower crop.

At 3.5 kilos, one of her huge cauliflowers is around four times bigger than the average UK supermarket cauliflower!

Hoping for a harvest festival prize

Despite its massive size, 51-year-old Gyan carries her cauliflower in a basket on her back like a backpack.

She is on her way to Bungamati town for a giant vegetable competition. It’s an uncomfortable walk with the heavy weight on her back and Saturday is Nepal’s only weekend day.

Even so, the town’s central square is crowded, and large pumpkins, radishes and spinach take pride of place.

Gyan is amazed by how big her giant cauliflower has grown. Like all the others here, she’s hoping for a prize.

But just being able to grow her own crop again is a gift in itself.

Gyan was one of over a million people whose houses were destroyed in Nepal’s devastating 2015 earthquake.

Like thousands of other small farmers, Gyan lost her livelihood as well, making getting back to normal after the earthquake even harder.

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Indonesia earthquake and tsunami: the Red Cross is there to help

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This blog was updated on 2 October 2018.

Indonesia has just faced a terrifying double disaster: a powerful earthquake and then a tsunami.

A series of earthquakes rocked the province of Central Sulawesi, with the strongest being 7.7 magnitude.

Its epicentre was near the city of Dongala, home to around 300,000 people. That’s roughly the same as the number of people who live in Nottingham in the UK.

At least 1,234 people are known to have died and at least 799 people have been hurt. More than 6,000 houses have been destroyed and over 600,000 people across the province could be affected.

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Typhoon Mangkhut: the Red Cross is there to help

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A Red Cross volunteer walks pass a house destroyed by Typhoon Mangkhut

Typhoon Mangkhut caused terrible damage in the Philippines, © Philippine Red Cross

Typhoon Mangkhut, which slammed into the Philippines on Saturday, was the world’s strongest storm this year.

Its winds reached a staggering 165 miles per hour. That’s 75 miles per hour stronger than Hurricane Florence, which hit the US on the same day.

At 168 miles across, this massive storm covered an area roughly equal to the distance between London and Stoke-on-Trent.

The human impact has been equally huge.

Reports are still coming in but we already know that at least 64 people sadly lost their lives.

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What would you miss most? Rebuilding after Hurricane Irma

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If a huge hurricane blew away your home, what would you miss the most?

For Lorie, it was his treasured viola. “There’s no way I can replace my instrument, my viola,” he said. “It was just precious.”

The keen musician’s home and viola were damaged by Hurricane Irma, one of the most powerful hurricanes ever seen in the Atlantic.

The huge storm damaged or destroyed almost every house in the British Virgin Islands in the Caribbean. Rebuilding is going slowly.

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Loss, courage and strength: Rahima from Myanmar tells her story

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Rahima, who fled her home in Myanmar, stands in a camp in Bangladesh

After fleeing her home in Myanmar and terrible suffering, Rahima still finds the strength to be positive about her new role in the community. © A J Ghani/British Red Cross

I met Rahima in Bangladesh when I visited with the British Red Cross. Like hundreds of thousands of others, she had fled her home in Myanmar. Deeply moved by her story, I promised to share it with the world.

“I am only 30 but I know I look older.” Rahima said.

“It is because I have been through so much.

“Though I am so sad, it is very important to tell our terrible story to the whole world.”

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Yemen’s healthcare in crisis: a doctor speaks out

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A boy walks among the rubble from a destroyed building in Yemen

© Yeyha Arhab/ICRC

“Here our job is human. I can’t leave it, I can’t stop.”

Dr Anisa, a doctor with British Red Cross partner the Yemen Red Crescent, speaks from a battered clinic in Sana’a, Yemen.

Once, she was a hospital specialist. The clinic was a thriving health centre for mothers and babies.

But now, Yemen is caught up in deadly conflict. Dr Anisa is now a GP working in one of the only clinics where people can get free healthcare. Patients travel for hours to see her every day.

Like many doctors in Yemen, she hasn’t been paid in two years.

But Dr Anisa keeps going: “The conflict has affected everyone, not just us. I can’t do anything else, this is my job.”

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Thirteen Newcastle girls and one good deed for Syria

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The words 'Something for Syria' are spelled out in lightbulbs on a stage with the Wylams Brewery name behind them in purple lights

Sadly, news of people forced to flee their homes in Syria is in the headlines once again.

When similar stories came out of Aleppo, a group of women in Newcastle decided to do something for Syria.

Sarah Melling, one of the women behind this response, tells their story.

What hit me most was the doctor’s despair.

He was working in Syria with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) during the siege of Aleppo. His letter on the BBC website told a harrowing story.

His team was evacuating the most vulnerable people from a former old people’s home in the besieged city.

The home had become a refugee camp in a sea of smashed concrete that used to be a thriving city.

Some of the people they found were disabled or mentally ill and some just had nowhere else to go.

As the Red Cross and their partners the Syrian Arab Red Crescent arrived to rescue them, they sat among the bodies of other patients who had already died. There was no heating, medicine or fuel.

Then some soldiers arrived with six children, one just seven months old. All had been orphaned in the past few days and left alone in the rubble with nothing to eat.

They carried the children and old people on stretchers through deserted and damaged streets, helping those they could, but passing the bodies of those for whom it was already too late.

“I feel so very sad, today,” the doctor wrote.

“Please, there have to be some limits to this war.”

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Learning lessons from the Grenfell Tower fire

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Mike at Grenfell Tower

Mike at Grenfell Tower ©BRC

Last year was one of the most challenging times in the history of the British Red Cross.

In the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire and terror attacks in London and Manchester, we responded on an unprecedented scale.

This included raising £28m for the people affected, sorting through 200 tonnes of donations and managing a 24-hour support line. Overall, we helped almost 2,300 people affected by these terrible tragedies.

From this, the Red Cross and other organisations that respond to emergencies have learned important lessons about how we support people in times of crisis. One of these is that all organisations involved in a crisis must work closely together.

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