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Helping earthquake victims in Bam

02/23/2004 16:15:56

Randall Zindler, who completed his MBA at Lancaster in 1999, has been appointed Chief Executive Officer of Swiss-based humanitarian aid organisation Medair. Medair provides relief and rehabilitation for the most vulnerable victims of crisis in countries affected by war or natural disaster. Most recently, Medair has been providing relief to victims of the Earthquake in Bam, Iran, in which up to 41,000 people died.

Before coming to Lancaster in 1998, Randall – who is originally from Chicago, USA – worked in the area of disaster management in Rwanda, following the genocide of 1994, for an organisation called Food for the Hungry International. While at Lancaster, he took advantage of the Lancaster MBA International Exchange Programme, and undertook a 3-month exchange at the University of St Gallen, in Switzerland. After that, Randall worked in a marketing role for a joint venture between American Express and Credit Suisse – based in Zurich. He then moved to a role in corporate human resource management with a focus on leadership development for a Swissair Group company called Gate Gourmet, which was then bought by the Texas Pacific Group.

With his background in management and humanitarian aid, and Christian values that include demonstrating compassion, Randall has always sought to play a strategic role in serving the poor: through supporting international organisations financially, offering consulting services pro-bono, speaking to groups about the needs of the poor, and challenging others to find roles they can play themselves. In January 2004 he moved back to a more direct leadership role in emergency aid as the newly appointed CEO of Medair.

Randall said: “I'm proud to be working for a committed humanitarian organisation like Medair. I think the all-round skills I developed on the Lancaster MBA will be of real value in my new job. Medair is unique among humanitarian aid organisations in having ISO 9001 certification, and I hope that with my MBA background I will be able to continue the excellent work that my colleagues at Medair have already begun.”

Medair has been active in providing relief and support for the earthquake victims in Bam, Iran. Measuring 6.6 on the Richter scale, the earthquake on 26 December 2003 was perhaps the worst in over 15 years. It killed up to 41,000 people, while injuring 30,000 more, and leaving 75,000 homeless. Most of the surviving population are still living in tents, amongst the ruins of their former homes.

Recently Prince Charles visited Bam and met British and other aid workers who are helping with the relief effort. This included some of Medair’s team in Bam, who were able to update the Prince on their work. During the earthquake, many people lost all but the clothes they were wearing, and so have been unable to change since then. Consequently, Medair has been distributing packs of underwear to people in various sectors of Bam. So far, over 4,000 families have received the packs - and distribution to a further 3,000 families is planned in the coming days. Additionally, Medair is planning to supply new shoes to over 600 school-children in one suburb of Bam. Medair has also been constructing temporary showers/washrooms and rehabilitating damaged latrines.

Medair's other commitments to the Bam earthquake victims include: the building and installation of approx 130 temporary wash areas using local labour and locally procured supplies; supply of approx 50 privacy covers for latrines where families have lost their homes; purchase and distribution of shoes for more than 500 school children; the purchase and installation of 15 pre-fabricated school rooms. Medair is also planning a distribution of baby clothes, whilst a future project may include the clearing of irrigation ditches.

Medair is a non-governmental organisation, dependent on public financial support. Medair's work in Bam is carried out in partnership with CORD and ZOA and is funded solely through the generous donations of private citizens in Europe, channelled through organisations such as the Swiss Solidarity Foundation and a number of NGOs from countries like the Netherlands, the UK, Switzerland and Sweden. Medair specialises in managing multi-sectoral emergency relief projects in underprivileged, developing countries where crisis situations threaten to further undermine future development and stability. Medair is currently managing water projects in Madagascar, Uganda and Sudan, and health projects in Afghanistan, Angola, and Congo. In Zimbabwe the team is providing food to school children. See the Medair website for more details on the projects.