In my day job, I’m a Customer Service Supervisor for DHL Express U.S., based in Costa Rica. I love working for this organization, and what really keeps me engaged is volunteering for DHL’s Disaster Response Teams (DRTs). When called on by the U.N., the DRTs travel to areas of the world affected by natural disasters to provide logistical support for the movement of humanitarian goods. We work at disaster site airports to prevent bottlenecks and get supplies out quickly – and help save lives.
I’d always been involved with volunteering projects in Costa Rica, so when I found out about the DRT initiative I wanted to be part of it. My first deployment was in Peru after the devastating earthquake of 2007, when I was part of the team working out of the military air base in Pisco on the southern coast, helping to store aid supplies in two hangars. I’ve also been deployed in my home country of Costa Rica following hurricane Otto in 2016 and tropical storm Nate in 2017. I was Team Lead on both occasions.
Working in a disaster zone is not for everyone. First, you’re in basic surroundings – there are no creature comforts! You also have to face your fears. Ever since I was little, I’ve been afraid of earthquakes; and in Peru, after the 2007 earthquake, we were in the area when the aftershocks started, which was terrifying. I know there is a risk, but I also know that DHL will always take good care of us, and the DRTs feel very well supported. Plus, I’ve learned a lot about myself. I now know how to handle my fear of earthquakes, and I deal with them totally differently. Also, I never thought I’d be managing a team of volunteers, working in a warehouse and prioritizing pallets of goods.
DHL’s Disaster Response Teams were established in 2005, work in cooperation with the U.N. and cover nearly all parts of the world considered vulnerable to natural disasters.
The number of specially trained DHL employees who volunteer their time to be a part of the DRT initiative
The number of deployments worldwide that DRTs have undertaken since 2005
Someone told me that I was one of the first women to join the DRT in the Americas. I said: “Really? I hadn’t noticed!” That’s because we’re such a good team that I never thought about it that way. Whether we’re training new volunteers or out on deployment, we have our own roles and responsibilities – but we work together as one. We’re like a family. And we never forget that we are there to support the humanitarian effort. — As told to Tony Greenway
Published: June 2021