Innovative humanitarian outfit uses luxury vessels to deliver critical supplies and ongoing support to natural disaster sites around the world
As relief efforts continue in the islands hit hardest by Hurricane Joaquin, a pioneering international aid organization has offered an invaluable helping hand to The Bahamas.
YachtAid Global (YAG) delivers humanitarian, developmental and conservation aid onboard yachts to isolated and underprivileged coastal communities worldwide. In times of natural disasters, YAG has the ability to mobilize and shift resources quickly to provide disaster relief in ways that others have not explored.
“Yachts are essentially self-contained disaster relief platforms that work perfectly in the geographic arrangement of isolated island communities,” said Mark Drewelow, YAG founder.
“The Bahamas has long been a fantastic host to luxury yachts; as such, our industry is obligated to help out in times of need. Every visiting yacht has the capability of contributing to the hurricane Joaquin recovery effort.”
The California-Based nonprofit organization works closely with yacht owners, crew and industry professionals to determine the needs of a particular area that yachts cruise to; sponsor or raise funds to meet those needs, acquire the necessary goods, resources and supplies; and transport and distribute the relief.
YAG recently undertook a disaster relief effort in the tiny Pacific island nation of Vanuatu in the wake of Cyclone Pam, successfully delivering 140,000 liters of water and several tons of aid over a 10-day period, as well as administering critical medical care, helping re-build schools and homes, clearing roads and undertaking needs assessments in collaboration with local partners and national crisis management agencies.
Drewelow said the team is eager to bring the lessons of that experience to bear on the relief effort in The Bahamas.
“It became clear that on disaster-struck islands, there is a great need for safe drinking water and the challenge is working out how to move in bulk as fast as possible with the least risk possible,” he explained. “We also learned about making sure aid is ‘pulled’ from the impacted area and not ‘pushed’ from donors; this means deliveries must be determined by properly vetted needs assessments so as to ensure that the right resources are going to the right places as quickly as possible.”
YAG’s policy is to work through the official disaster response agencies in each impacted country. Their offer to help The Bahamas has been welcomed by Stephen Russell, director of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
“We are most grateful for the donations and strategic support that have been offered by YachtAid Global,” Russell said. “The southern Bahamas remains in great need of help and they are globally recognized experts in disaster relief in small islands and coastal communities.”
Waterkeeper Bahamas, the local branch of a worldwide alliance dedicated to protecting the planet’s waterways, is collaborating with YAG in this effort.
“Partnering with Waterkeeper Bahamas has been and continues to be an outstanding experience,” Drewelow said. “They respond with care and thoughtfulness to requests for information and intelligence and they ask the right questions to YAG. They facilitate meetings for YAG with high-level people. Bahamas Waterkeepers is exceptional in all regards.”
Founded in 2006, YachtAid Global has worked with more than three-dozen yachts and brought aid to over 50 different remote or underprivileged areas of the world. Drewelow, a luxury yacht captain for 20 years, said he created YAG when he realized there was huge potential for the industry to make a meaningful contribution to the communities he had visited and come to love during his career.