In 1999, Dell Marie Wergeland went to Honduras to help victims of Hurricane Mitch. The powerful winds and drenching rain had created landslides that killed thousands and left millions injured and homeless. Dell, a nurse by training, took along medical supplies, tools and school materials.
In the aftermath of the destruction, the aid that arrived was chaotic. Clothing suitable for northern winters would show up, but not the much needed bandages, needles or medicines. Dell was deeply disturbed by the lack of practical supplies that could have helped wounded and homeless people. She returned to Victoria determined to do something about it.
Under the umbrella of the Church of the Nazarene and with family support, she decided to send a 40-foot container full of goods that would actually fit local needs (a container holds the equivalent of a fully stuffed single-car garage with a nine-foot ceiling). It took her 18 months to send the first container, all the while learning about finding donations of goods and cash, recruiting volunteers, locating responsible agencies to use and distribute goods, dealing with shipping companies, preparing export manifests and satisfying ever-changing customs regulations. There is no “dummies” handbook to teach these things.
Since that slow and humble beginning, more than 525 such containers filled with donated supplies have now arrived in 60+ countries ranging from Ukraine to Malawi to the Philippines. These goods have helped those less fortunate to receive medical care, a toy, some decent clothing, or equipment and tools that will allow them to earn a living.