Christian charity Medair calls on Manchester to lend hand to disaster-struck zones

From the peaks of the Himalayas to the swamps of South Sudan, Medair’s work in providing disaster relief to the world’s most vulnerable has made a lot of people sit up and take notice.

That’s why on Tuesday, when the humanitarian NGO came to Manchester on a recruiting drive prospective, volunteers flocked to the Methodist Centre to hear what they had to say.

Alex Day, the director of Medair UK, spoke about why this Christian organisation seeks to help people in the world’s most desperate, typically dangerous places, explaining that if Christ were alive today he would do the same.

After regaling the crowd with tales of adventure in the farthest reaches of the globe, Mr Day also commented that it’s because Medair help only those with the most pressing need they sometimes don’t get the recognition they deserve.

Mr Day, 31, told MM: “In Haiti after the earthquake loads of organisations poured into the capital, Port-au-Prince, but when our teams got there we thought that city would be pretty well-served by all those organisations.

“So we decided to go to the south of the country in a place called Cotes-de-Fer and when we got there, there was no-one else working there. That’s where we really try to place ourselves.

“In terms of recruiting supporters I think the fact we don’t work at the most publicised disasters does hurt us because funding follows where the media goes.”

It’s unfortunate, he said, but it’s important to Medair to stay true to their mission of helping those most in need, despite the greater publicity that comes with the ‘sexier’ disasters.

Mr Day said: “I was talking to a reporter who didn’t want to hear about our work in the Congo because he said ‘they’ve been raping and killing each other for years so no-one cares’.

“But that’s exactly the point of Medair, we help those we deem through extensive research to be the ones most in need, regardless of the publicity.”

It’s the reason why events like Tuesday’s at the Manchester Methodist Centre are so important to Medair; it allows them to reach prospective volunteers who would otherwise have never heard of them.

HELPING HAND: Dominic Citarella said his volunteering work at Medair has been inspiring  

In attendance was Dominic Citarella, who said: “I had heard of Medair but wasn’t sure about what they do. I came down to get more info and it’s been really good, really inspiring.”

Mr Citarella, from Wigan, currently works in development but was attracted to Medair because of the opportunity to get out into the field.

The 25-year-old said: “I really wanted to get out into the field so I’ve done a lot of research over the last few months to find stuff like Medair. 

“The great thing about Medair is that you could be placed anywhere from Syria to Madagascar to Haiti, which is really cool.”

Mr Day echoed the sentiment, saying: “It’s more rewarding to be out in the field because you’re one step closer to the people you’re helping and you can see the impact of your work.”

He also commented that the enthusiasm he’s seen in Manchester is really encouraging, and it’s only the size of his staff that keeps Medair from visiting more often.

He said: “We definitely get great enthusiasm from people in Manchester for Medair. Manchester is a big city and it has the industry we’re looking for so we try to come as often as we can.

“The funding and donations we receive from this area are great too. Lots of people want to get involved with us.

“For some that means volunteering and for others it means giving £5 a month, and in that regard Manchester’s been great.”

To find out more about Medair, click here. 

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