Chai Hicks, Barbara Neville John & Andrew Maloney, Anna & Skye Crotty, Phil Sleeman, Alan & Sue Bainsbridg

on Saturday, 12 May 2012. Posted in Leadership Interviews, Action Motivated Leadership

The Australian team who sent 1060 tents to Pakistan in response to the 2005 Pakistan earthquake: Chai Hicks, Barbara Neville John & Andrew Maloney, Anna & Skye Crotty, Phil Sleeman, Alan & Sue Bainsbridge. 

Around $A6.64 billion worth of damage was caused by the 7.4 magnitude earthquake that killed at least 38,000 people in northern Pakistan on October 8 at 8.30am local time. 

Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said, "The overall assessment - government, private sector and infrastructure - would be close to (US) $5 billion." "We need tents, tents, tents," said  Aziz, noting the first snow had fallen on the peaks near Balakot, one of the worst-hit towns in Frontier province.

"We need prefab housing, we need to repair what can be repaired. We have appealed to the whole world to ship tents and blankets to Pakistan."

This is the story of a team of Australians from Byron Bay who  organised the sending of tents to Pakistan in October 05. Chai Hicks, Anna Crotty, Phil Sleeman, Alan & Sue Bainsbridge, Skye Crotty, Barbara Maloney & Andrew Maloney, John Maloney & Dale Warburton  used the resources available through the camping industry and the radio media in Australia and sent 1060 tents to Pakistan. They organised with Quantas and Pakistan Air the transport of the tents and Medicine Sans Frontier and the Fred Hollows Foundation agreed to be the people on the ground to deliver the tents to those in need. 

On Tuesday the 11th of October a friend rang me, (on a very scratchy faint mobile line when I was on the road near Toowoomba) she was talking about wanting some tents to buy and send to Pakistan. How could she get them? Would I help? My first thought was probably like everyone else “Good Idea, but how will you get them there”? I thought she said “That’s what I can do”. So I said “okay”.

Four days later we had 1000 tents, 14 tons on 31 pallets, $189,000 worth of tents in the air on a QANTAS jet heading into hell on earth. And on Monday the 17th we sent another 60 tents to balance up the number of tents we had “sold”.

An idea to sell tents, from our shop, and rather than the customer taking them away we would send them to Pakistan was incredibly successful, people from the US, Ireland, New Zealand and throughout Australia rang, local people hearing about it came into the shop. One of the local firms Santos Health Foods a community owned business purchased 45 tents, the desire to do something tangible and practical was the thing we assume that caught the imagination of all who contributed.

ACLW article by Chai Hicks, Barbara Neville John & Andrew Maloney, Anna & Skye Crotty, Phil Sleeman, Alan & Sue Bainsbridge

How did we do it?

About 1.30pm on Tuesday Chai Hicks and her Friend Anna Crotty were having a coffee in Byron Bay discussing years past when they trekked in the Himalayas and how horrible it must be in those villages now after the earthquake. They had seen news of the earthquake on SBS news the night before and there was something mentioned about helping, so they decided to call and find out where they could send a donation. After a few phone calls no one seemed to know so they decided to do something themselves and rang our shop and by about 4pm they had my mobile.

Wednesday morning the 12th. QANTAS, had been contacted and they might agree to carry the tents to Bangkok (no mention of numbers maybe a pallet) Pakistan Air (PIA) would carry them on to Islamabad. Local radio Bay FM had been contacted as well as the Lismore Echo paper. Emails hit the Internet. Many phone calls were being made throughout Wednesday to sort issues we did not know existed. (Labels, permissions, “You have to speak to someone else in another department”.) On Wednesday most of the calls were being made by us, we were getting the information out. Thursday 13th. The morning was quiet but at 8am Chai did an interview with Steve Austin ABC Radio. Television crews turned up at the shop from Channels 7 & 9, and Coast Radio on the Gold Coast and four Tasmanian community radio stations were getting the word out.

9am the phones started, and our team was in chaos. We did not expect the response. Only two lines into the shop and both were not useable to call out on, fax or use our EFTPOS, my home number was also given out as well as a few mobile numbers. The days through until Friday were 5.30am starts and we left the shop around 11pm. But by mid morning Friday we knew that 1000 tents were going to be sold so we rang the wholesalers Oztrail and said send the tents to Sydney. They had agreed to pay the freight cost for that leg of the journey. We stopped selling tents a little after lunch. It was time to add it all up. Some callers sounded so concerned we said yes they could buy a tent and after the sums were done we had sold 1060 so on Monday morning we had to get another 60 tents. These came from Outdoor Connection and they also paid the freight costs to Sydney for these two pallets.

One week on and the tents are still on the ground in Bangkok airport they will be picked up by PIA today. Medicine Sans Frontier and the Fred Hollows Foundation have people on the ground and we have had discussions with them about delivery to those in need. We hope to get photos back but there is a fair amount of satisfaction even if no photo arrives.

The team who put this together were Chai Hicks and Anna Crotty, Phil Sleeman, Alan & Sue Bainsbridge, Skye Crotty, Barbara Maloney & Andrew Maloney. In the shop John Maloney & Dale Warburton kept everything functioning. Sandy McCutcheon and Steve Austin from the ABC were excellent advisors and information facilitators.

The rewards outweigh the time and effort simply because of the generosity, kind words and support given by all of you who phoned, emailed and spoke to us.

Chai Hicks, Barbara Neville John & Andrew Maloney, Anna & Skye Crotty, Phil Sleeman, Alan & Sue Bainsbridge.

Update 2006:

Our small group, after our initial success in sending 1,000 tents to Pakistan, has embarked on the NEXT STEP TO MANUFACTURE IN PAKISTAN A FURTHER 6,000 TENTS/SHELTERS for distribution to some of the 500,000 people who are still homeless. The winterised tents will be manufactured in Pakistan and are designed for the harsh terrain of the Himalayan winter.  Each tent will shelter a family of 6 to 8 people and it is estimated that a variety of sizes will cost between $200-$300 AU. Donations of tents can be done individually or collectively so why not get together a group of friends of colleagues to make this valuable contribution.  Any donations towards the purchase of a tent will also be greatly appreciated. The need is dire as the bitterly cold winter sets in.