St Albans woman helping relief efforts in Vietnam

PUBLISHED: 08:01 22 October 2009 | UPDATED: 14:33 06 May 2010

Hannah Reichardt

Hannah Reichardt

STRIVING to re-build lives in the wake of a devastating typhoon is all in a hard day s work for a Save the Children officer from St Albans. Hannah Reichardt, 29, of Cottonmill Crescent, flew to Vietnam with her Save the Children specialist emergencies tea

STRIVING to re-build lives in the wake of a devastating typhoon is all in a hard day's work for a Save the Children officer from St Albans.

Hannah Reichardt, 29, of Cottonmill Crescent, flew to Vietnam with her Save the Children specialist emergencies team at the start of this month, just two days after Typhoon Ketsana struck central Vietnam.

The typhoon, which killed hundreds in the Philippines before heading west, is one of the worst natural disasters to hit Vietnam in more than 50 years and has left around half a million Vietnamese in need of humanitarian support.

Hannah, who was in Kenya responding to a food crisis before she left for Vietnam, has been delivering urgently needed relief supplies - including rice, mosquito nets, blankets and kitchen utensils - to affected homes from her base in the capital Hanoi for just under three weeks.

Hannah said she has been overwhelmed by the typhoon's devastating effect: "Floods and landslides have swept thousands of communities away and as well as a severe food shortage, the outbreak of disease is high as rivers have been contaminated and schools have been damaged and equipment and learning materials ruined."

She added: "I'm always so impressed with children's resilience in the face of adversity. One child I met really affected me - she's called Ho Thi Kiet, she's 12-years-old and her family are incredibly poor. Her family home was badly damaged by Typhoon Ketsana and she has to stay there to look after her younger brothers and sisters while her mother works in a neighbour's field in return for food."

Hannah, who lives with her fiancé Angus and her cat Mischief, is emergencies communications officer for Save the Children and has been working for the charity for five years, flitting from one country to the next in response to global disasters.

She said it has always been her calling: "My late grandmother was a Save the Children volunteer for many years, so I feel like it's in my blood. Luckily my family is very supportive of my work and I'm incredibly proud to be part of such an incredible organisation - it's a privilege to be able to contribute to such life-saving work."

Save the Children has already reached more than 75,000 Vietnamese people with urgently needed relief supplies, but their work relies on the generosity of people living in the UK. To make a donation via the Disaster Emergencies Committee, visit www.dec.org.uk and to find out more about the charity log on to www.savethechildren.org.uk

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