Alphonce Omondi, a disaster assessment volunteer, came a long way to volunteer with the American Red Cross in southeast Texas. A native of Kenya, who has been living in the United States for 15 years, Omondi was in Africa for the summer when he saw news footage of Hurricane Ike heading towards the United States, and knew he had to return.
At the Red Cross Orange County Chapter, Texas. Omondi traveled a great distance to help after Hurricane Ike. Patrick Pannett/American Red Cross
Omondi, a graduate student at Millersville University in Pennsylvania, caught a flight back so he could be deployed though the Susquehanna Valley Chapter, where he is an intern and a disaster services volunteer.
Since arriving in Texas last week, Omondi has traveled to work out of the Orange County Texas Chapter of the Red Cross. He will be there for three weeks conducting disaster assessment. So far, he has worked with his team to survey the damage from Hurricane Ike in Bridge City and Orange.
Of his experience to date, Omondi said, "I've seen the expression people give us when they see us coming. They can trust and share with us—they feel they can confide in us, which makes me feel that it is important being part of a team that is here to assist."
Omondi is from Aboke, Kenya, which is a rural market center in the Siaya district of Nyanza Province. He joined his local Red Cross chapter in the Susquehanna Valley in April 2008: "I joined as an intern and wanted to get involved; my manager told me that as a student, I could intern and volunteer [in disaster services] at the same time to assist those in need."
Part of Omondi’s background includes assisting during Rwanda’s conflict in 1992. About the current Texas relief operation, he said, "This environment is a survival environment. We have to live in tents, but we know the most important thing to do here is our job, not to live in comfort. We live next to a highway that has busy traffic all day and night; it is great that everyone is willing to persevere and to do the job here for the Red Cross."
All American Red Cross disaster assistance is free, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people. You can help the victims of thousands of disasters across the country each year, disasters like the Hurricanes of 2008, by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, which enables the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, counseling and other assistance to victims of disaster. The American Red Cross honors donor intent. If you wish to designate your donation to a specific disaster please do so at the time of your donation. Call 1-800-REDCROSS or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Contributions to the Disaster Relief Fund may be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P. O. Box 37243, Washington, DC20013. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting www.redcross.org.