One link in the chain makes a valuable contribution
When Emilie Voskens was invited to join a TNT airlift to flood-stricken areas of Pakistan on behalf of Moving the World, she didn't quite know what to expect. As Corporate Communications Consultant, she knew she needed to report back on her experiences through a series of blogs and films. But, as she says, the seven-day operation revealed so much more than she ever expected.
Her first blog was actually written from a training session in USA, where she was one of a small group of employees from TNT, UPS and Agility who had come together for an intensive training on emergency response. The three logisitics companies have worked together for the past three years to support WFP in their relief operations by providing sklills and resources.
Emilie says: "No sooner had I completed the training than I was asked to join a food transport from TNT Airways in Liege all the way to southern Pakistan. The aircraft contained 330,000 pots, that's 110 metric tonnes, of peanut paste which would be given to infants suffering from undernourishment."
"The flight took seven hours and, although, I am not much of a 'vehicle" person, I found it really exciting. Sitting in the cockpit, I was able to learn so much about TNT's aircraft operations. It gave me a much clearer idea of how complicated the air cargo side to TNT's business really is. It was quite an eye-opener."
But Emilie's eyes were opened further once the plane has landed in Karachi in Pakistan. Karachi is a city of 20 million people who, although not directly affected by the severe flooding, are still dealing with many challenges. As Emilie says in her blog, the people of Pakistan face struggles of all kinds on a daily basis, with the outside world not fully appreciating the severity of their situation. "Whilst people in Karachi are friendly and want to show you their culture, they are still troubled by political unrest, poverty, corruption, shootings and terrorist bombings."
Having arrived in Pakistan, it took another five days to get the paste to the children. The whole process was extremely complicated and Emilie says she gained a lot of respect for those handling the logistics operation. The cargo had to be offloaded with a load master and then sorted in a warehouse for airport clearance. The truck drivers for the vehicles booked for transporting the paste then turned up 10 hours late, which resulted in delays.
Once moving, the trucks departed in different directions, delivering the paste to another set of warehouses for checking, before moving further on to relevant distribution points. Emily says:"Following the trucks and seeing the process first hand makes you realise how complicated it is. People are in constant contact with each other, from drivers to logistics supervisors to nutritionists and food monitors.
"We followed trucks to the rural area of Sindh and, two months after the flooding, large parts of the country are still under water. At the distribution points thousands of people waited in endless lines for their monthly food rations. It took me a while to realise the full extend of what I was witnessing. People who have lost their homes and livelihoods and are now completely vulnerable and dependent on others."
"The paste is supplement food to the rations that children aged six months to three years already receive. It is full vitamins, fats, calories and minerals. It does not need to be mixed with water and is tasty to eat. The children get four pots of peanut paste a month and the TNT airlift took out enough paste to benefit 330,000 children for one week."
Emilie says her experience in Pakistan provided her with an insight into a completely different world and she was very impressed by all those involved. She says: "When you see how hard everyone works to ensure the aid reaches the right places, it is incredible. It is a huge network of people who give up their personal lives to save other lives. They do an amazing job."
"It is also good to see how TNT employees use their logistics knowledge to help. TNT is just one link in the chain but that link is vital for getting the food out to these people. TNT makes a valuable contribution."