Sewing around the World

February 23, 2011 by  
Filed under Volunteers

GEMS can help people in need around the world because of the dedication of our hard working volunteers and sacrificial donors. Two of those volunteers are Jake and Ruth Schellenberg. Jake regularly supplies GEMS with reconditioned sewing machines. Ruth is part of a group called Helping Hands sews blankets.

Sewing in Guatemala

December 5, 2010 by  
Filed under Aid Delivered

Our recent shipment to Guatemala contained boxes of fabric and notions as well as sewing machines for use at Casa Esparanza. Recently a team from Kindersley, Saskatchewan went to help at the home for rescued and orphaned children. Janea, daughter of the home directors shared this report:

This past week we had a team come down from Canada. On that team was a lady named Ramona who came down to teach all the older girls of Casa Esperanza sewing. It was truly a blessing to have her come down and teach the girls something that could be used in future as a way to earn money. They still have lots to learn, but they pick up fast and have learned a lot in the past week. The project they made was a bag to put all their sewing supplies in . All the supplies were given from Ramona and her church. It was a long process as the girls picked out material and used there creativity to decorate their bag . They are very proud of the work they did , and are really blessed to get know and spend time with Ramona . While she was here , we all had lots of laughs and in the end some tears as it is always hard to get to know someone who is truly amazing and then say goodbye. I enjoyed spending more time with the girls as they sewed every morning and afternoon for a week . I was also sewing , and Romana was teaching me a bit more how to read patterns so that i could teach the girls when she is gone. I also helped her translate when she needed me, but most of the time she did really good with the girls in comunicating with them. I was really impressed with her openess and her patience she had with each and everyone of the girls. I included some photos of the girls and there bags .

Volunteers unload aid for Chile

October 10, 2010 by  
Filed under Aid Delivered

Volunteers worked hard to unload the container of aid sent by GEMS from Canada. Clothing, food, household goods and medical supplies were trucked by more volunteers to points of need up to 500 km away.

Thankless and Tedious Jobs

September 21, 2010 by  
Filed under Progress Reports, Thoughts, Volunteers

Once the truck picks up the container from our warehouse, most of the “GEMS” people here in Canada take a quick moment to catch their breath before work begins on the next container. But, halfway around the world, others are getting ready to go to work.

GEMS works with carefully screened agents and partners to distribute the much needed aid our Canadian partners and volunteers donate, collect and send. For our overseas workers, probably the most rewarding part of their job is to actually hand the goods to the people who desperately need them. The joy on the faces and the stories that are told can bring tears even to our eyes back in Canada.

Before the goods can be distributed in the destination country, however, there is the thankless and often tedious job that we often forget — meeting the local import and customs regulations. While GEMS prepares the shipping documents necessary for each destination and ensures that everything is in order, the process on the other end can be frustrating as this translated report shows:

In this first stage of the project, there was a moment of difficulty & incertitude… [We made] several visits to offices [at the port city] and in [the capital], where, during the first few days, they could offer no solution, seeing that for the customs office, it was a big, inconvenient procedure to take charge of a container without fumigating it.

Finally, we met someone who explained what we should do… this time with clear & precise directions.

One of the steps we took was to correct the Bill Of Lading, since the container had changed boats and this document had some incorrect information. Then, we had to contact the shipping company for them to take charge of the container and to do whatever was needed to have it fumigated before turning it over to us.

We freed the container from the Port and had it taken to the company where it was “de-consolidated” (emptied of all that wouldn’t need to be fumigated). After that, we had to find a fumigation business since the shipping company did not do fumigation –- they were authorized only as a primary security zone to hold the container and look after de-consolidation and consolidation. We contacted the company & arranged for the fumigation and asked the office of Agrículture & Cattle Services to check the container and duly confer a certificate of fumigation.
Since we were carrying dried soups, we had to visit the national health service and have them check the container and issue a document certifying that the foods had neither expired nor decomposed.
When this was done, we were able to put everything back into the container and then to seal it. These documents allowed us to go to Customs for permission for the container to leave the primary security zone.

We took the customs pass to the shipping company, which released the container to a truck, which transported it the three hours to our compound.

It was not possible to have the container delivered to the region of need, so a group of men emptied the container so we could then repack its contents onto other trucks for delivery to our needy citizens.

Planning for Distribution in Chile

September 15, 2010 by  
Filed under Aid Delivered

Community and church leaders in El Monte, Chile gather to plan the distribution of recently arrived aid sent by GEMS from Canada for the victims of the earthquake.

Help Arrives for Chile

September 10, 2010 by  
Filed under Aid Delivered, Volunteers

Chile, aid, food, earthquake, supplies
On Thursday, July 15, 40 volunteers left El Monte, Chile to travel through the night to Lota, a small city of 45,000 devastated by the earthquake of late February and subsequent looting. Arriving at 6 AM the volunteers went to work immediately and worked tirelessly for three long days until climbing aboard the bus Sunday evening, they once again travelled through the night to their homes and to be back at work the next morning.

One of the primary tasks of that team of volunteers was to distribute the aid sent by GEMS in cooperation with the local Chilean community to the needy people in that region. Excerpts from the report filed by the team follow:

we left… by municipal bus, travelling about 10 hrs., but no matter, since the group had tremendous enthusiasm…. On arrival at the meeting place in Lota, at nearly 06:00 hrs., our contact brother was waiting with hot soup prepared by the sisters of the local church together with its Pastor, it was a blessing to be there, the low temperature didn’t matter, nor the strong wind that was blowing, nor even that the place awaiting us was social housing, the important thing was that we had arrived to fulfill the purpose of God for humanity; to bless them.

… One of the most moving visits we made that morning was to “las Cabañas” which consisted of a great many families who had been brought here after the earthquake. The houses were half-full of jars of water brought by the government to the affected families.

There we fulfilled our mission of aid, seeing the needs & how happy the children were to receive a toy, a doll or teddy bear, where children went door to door seeking articles of clothing for small brothers & sisters, never mind for themselves, where pregnant women did likewise to have clothes for their baby-to-be.

Baking for Chile

July 7, 2010 by  
Filed under Aid Delivered, Volunteers

The relief we were able to send to victims of the earthquake in Chile was made possible through the work of many tireless workers. Our own volunteers once again rose to the occasion. However, the shipments would not have been possible without the work of the help of many people both in Vancouver and Victoria. The first container has arrived in Chile and will be unloaded in the town of Del Monte within the next few days.

Following is a letter sent from the Victoria Public Library.

Thanks to volunteers

June 28, 2010 by  
Filed under Aid Shipping, Volunteers

Thanks to volunteers from the Chilean community in Richmond and our friends from Wagner Hills in Langley, we loaded two large 40 ft. containers in June – one to Chile on June 19, and the other to Romania on June 27.  This brings our total to 12 40 ft. containers for the year.  

Our first container to Chile has also arrived and we are anticipating further information regarding that any day now. Please pray that all goes well with these containers.  

Among other cargo on board our 2nd container to Chile this time were over 360.000 servings of soup from the Gleaners in Oliver and an X-Ray machine (a complete unit) originally donated by the hospital in Trail. This shipments is going to the city of Tirua – a small town near the city of Conception which was greatly damaged by earthquakes earlier this year.  The mayor of Tirua has already welcomed this shipment as do many other people in Chile. The cargo is scheduled to reach Chile in a few weeks time.

Thanks to Volunteers from Near and Far

March 15, 2010 by  
Filed under Volunteers


During the Vancouver Olympics in February volunteers from across the country came help out. Some teams of youth from churches in Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton and Kamloops heard about GEMS and the work we do and offered to help. They joined with our regular dedicated volunteers to sort clothes and educational material and load containers. We are grateful for the hard work of these young people and all of our volunteers.