Toronto responds to call to help Burma, Nepal

Volunteers in Toronto on Thursday jumped into action to help a local humanitarian group's efforts in Burma, also known as Myanmar, which has been affected by floods.

Volunteers pack more than 2,000 household water purification units and hygiene kits

Volunteers in Toronto helped GlobalMedic pack supplies for flood-ravaged Burma on Thursday.

Volunteers in Toronto joined forces on Thursday to help a local humanitarian organization's efforts in Burma, also known as Myanmar.

At least 80 volunteers responded to GlobalMedic's request to assemble and pack more than 2,000 household water purification and hygiene kits.

More than 100 people have perished following floods and landslides in July. The annual monsoon season has also wreaked havoc in India and Nepal.

"When disaster strikes, our response time is extremely rapid and our volunteers jump to help despite the short notice - sometimes in less than 24 hours," Laurel Kozik, GlobalMedic's Emergency Programs Officer, told CBC News.

"We've had a number of relief packing days for Nepal over the past months, and have always received overwhelming support," Kozik said.

Kozik said GlobalMedic sent out an email asking for help. The group also reached out to groups in the city from whom it has received a huge amount of support.

"We are very fortunate to have volunteers that will put their life on hold to come out on such short notice and lend their support," Kozik said.

Nicole Dryden, a paramedic who's worked in India, was one such volunteer. She called the experience hugely rewarding.

"We're in the business of helping people," she told CBC. "I thought this is something I could do in my own time and it didn't require a huge commitment."

Dryden said she had friends in Nepal when the country was hit by a devastating earthquake last May, "so this call (for help) hit close to home."

A 7.8-magnitude earthquake on April 25 and another powerful quake on May 12 together killed nearly 8,700 people and injured 16,800 others.

GlobalMedic packed supplies for two projects Thursday.

Kozik said 900 kits will be sent immediately and will be distributed by a team of Canadian responders.

"Another 1,250 kits are being sea freighted by ship to Nepal to support families affected by the earthquake," she said. 

GlobalMedic has reached over 30,000 people in Nepal since April.

Kozik said the water purification units will provide a family with clean drinking water for an entire year.

"In addition, we're packing each unit full with essential hygiene items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste and soap, in order to protect the health of these families over the coming months," she said.