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KBI/Tzu Mission to Afghanistan and Cambodia

From Zamboanga City, Mindanao Island, Philippines July 1, 2002

Greetings from Southern Philippines:

Today took us to several locations in the city of Zamboanga, on the far southern coast of Mindanao Island.

First we visited an Orphanage. They take in kids from all sorts of needs - abandonment, death of family members, and a list of other situations that are well known to orphanages. This orphanage is privately run and at this time houses 46 children. Many, about 25%, or babies in cribs. The orphanage runs a day care center, and send the school age children to the local public school.

The facility was extremely well taken care of and clean, with obviously very caring staff. The facilities had recently been upgraded through volunteer help of several members of the US armed forces stationed in the area, as the orphanage was "adopted" by these guys. They fixed the building, installed electrical wiring, emergency lighting, and bought cribs - all out of their own pockets. The men who provided this assistance are concerned that the other aid, not yet addressed by them - will go unanswered when their training assignment ends, and they were introducing Knightsbridge to this facility to see if there was anything we could do to help pick up where they would leave off.

We received a good tour of the facility, and set up a dinner meeting with the board of directors of the orphanage.

We then visited a home for street children in downtown Zamboanga and toured their facility to determine what their needs were. As can be expected, they were many. We did what we could to understand their operation and their expenses so that we can determine if this can be a Knightsbridge project as well.

Our afternoon was taken up by a briefing by the Humanitarian Assistance (HA) group of our US Army contingent in Zamboanga. They have spent the past several months making a comprehensive aspect of all of the needs on the island of Basilan. We will be going with them to Basilan tomorrow to get a first hand picture of the situation there.

The HA guys provided us with all sorts of information including the demographics of the island, the population densities, and their assessment of the prioritized basic needs for the area.

Clean water topped the list of priorities, and they have already started the wheels in motion to address a good supply of drinking water in four or five areas on the island in the very near future. They wanted to supply us with the information they have developed on where the needs are so Knightsbridge and other NGO's can come into the area and begin providing the humanitarian assistance that is needed there. They want to get the message out that the needs are real, and are immediate, and that the reasons for NGO's not going in during the past year or so, are now diminished.

We will tour the island tomorrow and obtain first hand input on the needs and requirements. By far the most important item to address are now the medical needs. The normal basic pharmaceutical medicines are required immediately, as well as personal hygiene and standard "household" medicine items. Although we are going to the island tomorrow, we are starting now to reach out to our partners in the NGO world to determine how these supplies can be arranged.

We discussed the idea of Knightsbridge making up laminated "Medical Maps" showing a different medical aid treatment in each square of a folded up "map". This may be printed in English on one side, and the native language, Tegalic, on the other side. The doctor for the humanitarian team of the Army thought this would be a good idea, and the process of designing and producing these maps was started.

When we met with the board of directors for the orphanage this evening, we offered to help them with supplies and equipment. Even though their need is great and obvious, their answer was "Our friends in Basilan are in much more need of these things than we are. You will see that the orphans here in Zamboanga are lucky compared to those on Basilan. Please give your aid to those in Basilan." We asked again what might be holding them back from fulfilling the needs of the orphans in their community. They said that there were many more orphans to attend to, but with their staff they could only attend to so many. After some discussion, Knightsbridge provided the board with the funds to employ 5 additional care persons in the orphanage for a year, allowing them to address the larger needs of their community.

Don, representing the men who had volunteered to fix up the orphanage chipped in again to provide the needed cribs and cots for the additional orphanages.

The following pictures are included as an attachment:

  • 3468 - Two babies in one crib. One was a baby abandoned at the orphanage this morning. The other baby has a heart problem and is being sent to a hospital for further examination and hopeful corrective work.
  • 3471 - Ed with one of the babies.
  • 3482 - Ed being briefed by Brigadier General Wurster, on the Humanitarian Assistance needs on Basilan Island.

Tomorrow should prove to be an interesting trip to Basilan Island.

Take care,

Walt Ratterman, with Ed Artis, Adrian Belic, and Michael Mische
Knightsbridge International Zamboanga City, Mindanao Island, Philippines July 1, 2002

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