Fuel Relief Fund is the only non-profit in the world that provides free fuel immediately following a major natural disaster.
We have many examples to share to illustrate that our program works and to show how Fuel Relief Fund’s relief efforts have been effective. After 6 years as a non-profit organization, providing free fuel to victims of natural disasters around the world, in 2015, Fuel Relief Fund signed a partnership agreement with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA). This partnership is a recognition of the outstanding work of our charity and a confirmation that our work is a necessary and vital aspect in humanitarian response. Mr. Jasper Holmer-Lund, Chief, Field Coordination Support Services and Secretary of the International Search and Rescue Group at United Nations OCHA) stated in January, 2016: “Fuel Relief Fund has proven themselves in the field and they fill a gap.” We fill this gap and are reliable and proven in providing fuel relief with expertise, efficiency, dedication and compassion. Through providing predictable fuel supply, we are able to undergird the humanitarian response, strengthening its quality and effectiveness. This translates to more lives saved, and aid delivered with speed and effectiveness in the critical first weeks after a disaster.
In this section, we describe how we at Fuel Relief Fund know our programs are effective, in the words of our volunteer deployment teams, and beneficiaries, individuals and families affected by disasters.
In Japan, after the devastating earthquake and subsequent tsunami in 2011:
“The Tsunami in Japan was the worst natural destruction I have ever seen. There are no videos or pictures that can capture its power. But the need in Japan was no different than for all the other major natural disasters we have responded to, everyone needed gasoline or diesel. The difference was it was below freezing when we arrived. These cold temperatures created the desperate need for an additional kind of fuel. So the government and Fuel Relief Fund agreed that we would have the greatest impact if we gave away free heating oil
Most Japanese’s families do not heat their entire home. People buy kerosene to fuel their portable heaters. They move those heaters from room to room, to stay warm. In order to purchase this kerosene almost every family owns a 5-gallon fuel can. So Fuel Relief Fund decided to provide 2.5 gallons of free heating oil to individuals in the communities up and down the destroyed tsunami coastline.
What an amazing culture! Day after day, we traveled from town to town, and to multiple shelters providing this free heating oil. The lines for fuel were hours long. People stood in the freezing rain, snow and wind. The lines were made up of professionals, laborers, mothers and children, grandparents, and business owners. All waited patiently in line for hours just for 2.5 gallons of heating oil.
One day after walking down a long fuel line of people, just to say hello, we realized the line was too long and we would run out of fuel. We needed to put up a sign and we needed to estimate who would be the last person in line who could still get his or her fuel can filled. After that point there would be no more reason to cue up. It was one of the coldest days yet, and people kept coming. They were so saddened when they saw the sign and realized that they were too late, and that we would run out. We decided to tell everyone if they were willing to wait another 4 hours, we would send the fuel truck back for more fuel, and continue filling up containers well into the night. Not one person left. It was worth the minimum 4-hour wait for each and every one of them. Everyone sat down next to their fuel cans, waiting in the warmest clothes they still owned. After about two hours, a couple of Japanese men showed up in a little box truck filled with apples and little individually wrapped cookies and started handing them out. Everyone left their fuel cans and started swarming the food truck as the two men tossed the food to the hungry people. My initial thought was that there were going to be some problems with people skipping in line as folks came back to their fuel cans, but that was far from what happened. Every person came back to their original place in line. No one tried to cut in front, but instead waited for an additional two hours for our fuel truck to return.
Now for the special moment I hold dear to my heart and always will. The Fuel truck finally arrived again, and everyone applauded. We started the fueling operation once more. Of course everyone was tired and cold. There were hundreds of people, waiting and waiting. All were hungry, all were tired, many grieved loved ones, many did not know what they were going to do with the rest of their lives, many needed to start their lives all over again from scratch with no possessions.
When the fuel started flowing again, I decided it was time to walk down the line again. I wanted to show them a kind face and without knowing any Japanese somehow instill hope for the future. After I had walked along the line for about an hour, I returned to the fuel truck to see how things were going and I noticed a large row of apples and cookies on the ground next to the truck. I asked one of our Japanese workers, “why are all of these apples and cookies sitting here”? His answer made all of us from FRF emotional because he said “They want to say thank you, and apples and cookies are all they have to give you”.
Fuel Relief Fund has over a hundred stories like these. We have deployed to nearly every major natural disaster around the world for the last ten years providing a much needed service.
The beauty of Fuel Relief Fund is in its scale, efficiency and impact. Though we are small in size and modest in budget, our organization benefits so many people in need. Providing fuel for first responders and relief agencies just expands our reach that much more to reach those who need help after a disaster. If you have the right board members, volunteers, leadership and partners, it is easy…”
In the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan in 2013:
“When two volunteers from Fuel Relief Fund landed at the airport in Tacloban, Philippines on a military flight from Manila, to provide free fuel following Typhoon Haiyan, we walked up to a US Army Officer, and told him we were there to provide free fuel. We then asked where the United Nations camp for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) was.
We were immediately guided to a military helicopter and transported to the United Nations compound. When we checked in and explained why we where there, the United Nations leader of OCHA welcomed us with open arms. He indicated everyone needed fuel to proceed with relief efforts and it seemed no one was able to find fuel. Hospitals were running low or out of fuel and were unable to provide medical treatments, main and portable water treatment plants were without fuel, NGO’s did not have fuel to transport their goods and services. Even the UN World Food Programme did not have fuel. During our stay in the Philippines we provided fuel for the UN, the Red Cross, Doctors without Borders, and to Save the Children. There were many other organizations, municipalities and individuals who received fuel from us and without our presence there, many would have been unable to continue their work.”
Our mission is to fly in with a team of 2 or 3 operational field trained, experienced fuel and logistics experts, who with the assistance of petroleum partners, locate the closest sources of fuel to the disaster. We then locally arrange for payment and transportation services. This keeps cost very low and engages many people in the affected community and/or country. From the local government, to the fuel supplier, to his employees, everyone wants to help and this way the local community becomes part of the effort. Due to the fact that we have excellent relationships with petroleum partners in the US and due to the fact that we engage the local government and population in our efforts, we have been able to procure fuel products very cost effectively.
Fuel donations can help in so many ways and affect so many people. From filling up fuel cans and vehicles following Hurricane Sandy, to filling that light stand generator with 35 gallons of diesel ($100US) that provided light for 50,000 people, to fueling generators for hospitals and orphanages, to providing fuel for transport so international and local NGO’s can start and continue their service, to fueling generators for a water treatment plants which provided whole towns with clean water for a week or more. Fuel does all that and more…
Fuel Relief Fund has seen hundreds of people stand in line in several locations allowing them to charge their cell phones for just five minutes. We provided the fuel that powered those generators, so they could call a loved one for help, or just to tell them they were alive.
Nothing goes to waste, every dollars is easily accounted for, spent in country, touching more people in more ways than anyone can imagine. Nothing happens without fuel and FUEL SAVES LIVES!