Pride and tears after mission in disaster area

Pride and tears after mission in disaster area

Vodafone Foundation comes to the rescue after hurricane

People in tears after hearing the voices of their loved ones for the first time again. That image will stick in the minds of the participants of the Vodafone Foundation mission to Mozambique for a long time. Mid-March 2019, four colleagues of the Vodafone Foundation flew to the African country to restore communication after a destructive hurricane.

Hurricane Idai caused massive destruction in Mozambique. Besides the loss of many lives, communication lines were destroyed and roads swept away. Immediate communication following a disaster is crucial for relief workers and inhabitants. Which is why the Vodafone Foundation immediately came into action.

The foundation sent an international team of Vodafone colleagues from the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania and Hungary. Among other things they took Instant Wi-Fi equipment with them, developed in the Netherlands. On the ground, the team cooperated with the local telecom provider Vodacom, the NGO Télécoms Sans Frontières and the local authorities. The goal: setting up communication superfast for emergency services and inhabitants/victims.

The foursome travelled to Beira, the city most severely struck by the devastation. They managed to set up a 2G network at the airport for communication for the emergency services. In addition, the Vodafone employees went to a number of schools where on average 600 homeless families were staying, offering them the opportunity to use a satellite phone for free to call their relatives and let them know they were safe.

"We saw people cry when they spoke to their loved ones after days of uncertainty. That we can achieve something like that with our technology is fantastic," says Jeroen. "But pride is, of course, not the only feeling we experience. We see sadness and fear up close, which makes it sometimes hard to let go of those emotions. But however intense it is, the fact that you can offer help is richly rewarding."

The Dutch Vodafone Foundation already sent employees to disaster areas in Saint Martin (2017) and the Philippines (2018). With the Instant Network programme Vodafone deploys colleagues (volunteers) and equipment to set up temporary communication lines in disaster areas within 48 hours.

Watch the interview with Jeroen Aanraad and Harm Kanters. Jeroen was in Mozambique and Harm went to Saint Martin in 2017, also after a hurricane. They share their experiences and talk about the goals of their missions, the necessary talent to improvise and the accompanying intense emotions.