The Kirwin International Relief Foundation is a humanitarian organization dedicated to helping others help themselves in a respectful and environmentally sustainable manner.
Whenever we can, we raise funds and pay for our own travel to disaster areas to help people who have been victimized by a natural or man-made disaster.
Most recently, KIRF sent a team of volunteers to Kathmandu, Nepal to assess earthquake needs and deliver needed supplies. Through the invaluable assistance of the local Rotary Club of Kathmandu, we were able to travel to communities not getting adequate help, interview residents there to assess their needs, and purchase and deliver what they needed quickly and efficiently with volunteer help. Our volunteers saw that the Nepalese busy re-building their homes by re-using bricks and materials as much as they could, but what they needed the most were sheets of corrugated aluminum to fashion roofs that can withstand the summer monsoon rains and later winter weather. They were very grateful for the donated tents and food and medical care from the international community of volunteers and humanitarians, but to survive the summer rains in their rural mountain towns and farms, what they desperately needed was new roofs for long term recovery.
Before the Nepalese earthquake relief project, we provided disaster relief to local coastal communities directly hit by the “Super Typhoon” Haiyan on the island of Panay in the Philippines. Were able to do this with donor support in the Philippine American community and via an informal aid network of volunteers from the Central Philippine University. Again, and again, we have found that in disaster zones, it is the local residents who know best which communities need help the most. They also know how to get the needed supplies purchased (at low prices) and delivered quickly to those who need them. We make every dollar count! This is because as a small donor-supported volunteer organization we have too.
In 2010 we assisted with the first phase relief effort in Haiti after the devastating earthquake in January of that year. In 2008 we assisted Typhoon Nargis survivors in Burma through an informal aid network of Buddhist monasteries. We assisted with earthquake relief near Pisco, Peru in 2007. We sent a volunteer team to Mississippi to assist homeless survivors of Hurricane Katrina get needed living supplies and connections to local care networks in Fall 2005. Our volunteer and locally-connected disaster relief began in 2004. In December of that year, we were with our children on a family vacation on the coast of Thailand and narrowly missed the tsunami. Our first experience doing on-the-ground disaster relief with local people began then through the guidance of a local hospital administrator and off-duty police officers volunteering to help, in the port city of Ranong in southern Thailand. We have returned to Thailand many times and since 2004, we have helped local tsunami survivors regain their livelihoods by purchasing them fishing boats, re-building a fish farm, delivering medical supplies and culturally appropriate educational supplies and starting a scholarship fund for children who were orphaned by the tsunami’s destruction.
In May 2005 we purchased and delivered new boats and fishing supplies to a coastal village a population of Moken (nation less sea gypsies of the Andaman Sea) who were stranded on one of the many small islands in the Andaman Sea with no food and water. We supplied them with everything from food staples, water, rain cachement barrels, mosquito nets, sarongs, cooking supplies and a fishing boat. through the assistance of a local Thai church based in Ranong. By 2006, we have also been able to set up an educational fund for 54 orphaned children who had lost one or both of their parents to the deadly tsunami. We did this through the locally and international respected non-profit Population & Community Development Association (PDA) of Thailand.
KIRF has assisted families with needed living supplies along the Gulf Coast of Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina in the fall of 2005. Angela Kirwin, Co-Founder, worked with a local school district and local volunteer humanitarians to help identify families and children in need and deliver relief.
At the beginning of 2006, Mark Kirwin, Director of KIRF travelled to India to help out with drought relief in the northern state of Bihar. With the assistance of local Indian humanitarians, KIRF was able to install seven new wells that continue to provide safe drinking water in rural villages after years of drought and a falling aquifer. In addition to the drought relief, KIRF has invested in micro-loan projects, has purchased school supplies such as curriculum text books and sports equipment as well as vocational training supplies such as sewing machines, textiles and sewing instruction.