Nepal quake survivors need tents, not toys

Nepal quake survivors need tents, not toys
UNNECESSARY: These are some of the donated stuff that Mr Chew's company, Astrans Logistics, has received. The unneeded items fill up 180 cartons. According to Mr Chew, at least eight people are required every day to sieve through the donations.

EXPIRED medicine, used bras, paper diapers, belts, jigsaw puzzles - these are things not urgently needed by Nepal's earthquake survivors, yet they have been given as donation items to a logistics company here, which must spend time to deal with them.

According to Edmund Chew, the head of Astrans Logistics, these unneeded items now fill up 180 cartons, which make up 5 per cent of the 3,600 boxes into which his company has packed the items it received from local donors over the past 12 days as of yesterday.

About three-fifths of these boxes are still in two of Astrans' warehouses, including the 180 which Mr Chew hopes would find other beneficiaries.

The other two-fifths have been sent to Nepal as relief supplies.

According to Mr Chew, who offered to collect contributions and send them to Nepal following the earthquake, at least eight people are needed every day to sieve out the unneeded items.

The job requires a long stretch of time, usually eight hours, he said.

The sievers are volunteers who are helping Astrans handle the donations.

Their job includes sorting out, packing, moving and storing the items.

"Some items are of no use to the survivors. Besides, sending them to Nepal would hurt our country's reputation," the 59-year-old founder of Astrans told Chinese evening daily Lianhe Wanbao.

"There was even expired bird's nest, which could hurt...the survivors."

However, he could not turn down unwanted donations as this might spark a quarrel with the donors.

"On the first day of collection, one man came from Toa Payoh (to Tuas) with a bundle of old clothes," recalled Mr Chew.

"Considering the distance he travelled, I felt obliged to accept what he gave."

He also believes that most donors had no idea what they should give and were not using the donation drive to get rid of their unwanted stuff.

"That's why public education is needed on this matter," he said.

Mr Chew is grateful to the 300 or so volunteers.

According to him, acceptable donations include thick clothing, quilts, tents, paracetamol, medicated balm and other general-use medicine.

"It's cold in Nepal, so the usual T-shirts or vests have little use. Downy coats would be more relevant," said Mr Chew.

"Rice, salt and cookies are also important. But they should come in small packets of about 5kg each, as large packs are hard to distribute and may even spark a mob rush."

Astrans closes its collection drive tomorrow.

myp@sph.com.sg


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