Long-term aid

Malteser International also provides a wide range of humanitarian aid from its US office.

Malteser International / Jürgen Hoppe - Malteser International

Six years after the major earthquake there, Haiti is still reliant on help. Not only were the consequences of the quake devastating for the country, new tropical cyclones and continuing droughts have destroyed harvests and robbed people of their livelihoods. In 2012, Malteser International, 
the worldwide humanitarian relief agency of the Sovereign Order of Malta, opened 
a mother-and-child center and a health center in the vicinity of Darbonne near Léogâne; both are now run independently by the Episcopal Church. Farmers are given training in how to produce bigger crops, while people living in slums in Cité Soleil in Port-au-Prince are receiving courses in hygiene and health care. Close collabor­ation with the Association of Youngsters and three other organizations there is also pivotal.

Cooperation with local partners with a view to organizing the rebuilding of a country or region such that it is in a better position than before the misfortune is 
the aim of the Malteser International programs in America. Be it the suffering 
following the earthquake in Haiti, the consequences of Hurricane Katrina in New 
Orleans or fighting a new threat, the Zika virus in Colombia, disasters need emergency measures, but also long-term aid in order to stabilize people’s livelihoods and give them new prospects. For this reason, since 2013, Malteser International has, from Cologne, been setting up a US oper­ation in Miami in order to provide aid more effectively. The Order of Malta has been 
active in North and Central America and the Caribbean for decades, and through 
its national associations is very well networked there. But as Ravi Tripptrap, Executive Director of Malteser International Americas in Miami, says, “We wanted to be even closer to the regions and actually in the countries that we want to help.” The Order of Malta’s three US associations are important partners in this.

Important disaster risk reduction

In its work, Malteser International focuses on health, food supply security, water and sanitation, so that people can overcome the challenges of being forced to leave their homes, poverty, climate change, natural disasters and armed conflicts. Disaster risk reduction is becoming more and more important. “Our brief is to help the poorest of the poor and provide emergency aid, 
as well as to prepare the population for 
future disasters,” says Ravi Tripptrap, 43, who has worked for the aid organization for 13 years.

In Germany, Malteser International is supported by the Federal Foreign Office and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. The non-governmental organization aims to become better known in the USA and develop fundraising for 
the American market through its office in Miami. The headquarters in Cologne and the US branch work hand in hand to achieve that. For the helpers, being on site also means being able to understand the needs and cultures of other continents better. “We don’t have the expertise to solve problems everywhere. If we abandon our Eurocentric way of seeing things and take a polycentric world order as our basis, local players and partners, as well as new financial backers with different perception and evaluation patterns, become more important,” emphasizes Sid Johann Peruvemba, Vice-Secretary General and Program Director of Malteser International.

Malteser International is currently developing a community-based disaster preparedness and resiliency program which, beginn­ing in Louisiana, will prepare people for 
future risks along the hurricane belt. “There is still a danger, and we want to heighten an awareness of future disasters,” Ravi Tripptrap says. Working closely with local partners 
and authorities, this also involves training 
in the evacu­ation of public buildings, so that in an emergency children and people with disabilities can be helped better. Ten years 
after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, Malteser International sees creating structures and establishing aid for disadvantaged groups of the population as its most import­ant task. As early as 2005, shortly after the devastating floods in the city, the aid or­ganization opened an office there in order to help restore houses and schools with support from over 1,000 volunteers. ▪