News: US service members deliver supplies to Bi’idley storm victims
Story by Staff Sgt. R.J. Biermann
BI’IDLEY, Djibouti - After the small village of Bi’idley, located within the Ali Sabieh district of Djibouti, was hit by a strong wind storm three months ago, the village’s nearly 100 residents were left with demolished homes, missing livestock and some personal injuries.
“It began at 9 p.m. and lasted two hours,” said Hassan Ahmed, a Bi’idley villager. “After that, everything was destroyed. People were running away and yelling. It was cold here.”
Today, Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa’s Ali Sabieh (Djibouti) Joint Civil Affairs Team, Camp Lemonnier’s Friends of Africa Volunteers group and Enduring Freedom Chapel staff arrived at the village to deliver more than 20 boxes of supplies to assist with rebuilding this community.
“What we’re doing is a simple relief mission,” said U.S. Army Maj. Sean Malis, Ali Sabieh JCAT team leader. “As a civil affairs team … we try to identify needs of the local populations. Upon our visit to this small village, we could see that they were in great need of help.”
After visiting the village, Malis partnered with the FAV and chapel office.
“We were approached by Maj. Malis about bringing some supplies to this village,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Adriana McCrindle, FAV assistant liaison to the U.S. Embassy in Djibouti. “These people had a cyclone come through here three months ago and they lost everything. We just brought some stuff for them to rebuild.”
According to Malis, Bi’idley villagers live in small huts, called tukels. These tukels are made of woven branches that are covered with mats. Much of the supplies given will be used to continue rebuilding these homes.
“This windstorm destroyed homes all over the village,” Malis said. “These simple relief supplies, such as cooking supplies, utensils, fabric, things that these people could really turn around and use to help rehabilitate their village, would be very beneficial to the community to try and get them back up on their feet.”
To gather the supplies, the FAV reached out for help while the chapel staff sorted through the many boxes of care packages they had.
“Most of these supplies have been donated by soldiers, friends and families back home,” Malis said. “They’ve been shipped out here at considerable expense, to be gathered up by the chaplains and FAV to be donated here today. The FAV bring an invaluable service to our efforts of helping to relieve some of the stresses and problems in our area. They also bring enthusiastic service members who are anxious to make friends and connect with the community and citizens of Djibouti. We look forward to working with the FAV in the future.”
Another partner effort is already in its planning stages.
“We’re working on a project right now to help preserve a wildlife refuge in the southern part of Djibouti,” Malis said. “It’s a project where we’re trying to help the local government build capacity by working with local officials and wildlife preserve staff to delineate the boundaries of this wildlife preserve.”
For more information or to volunteer within the FAV, attend a Wednesday meeting at 5 p.m. at the Enduring Freedom Chapel office.