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Push Back The Water

Chris Brooke, Deepty Patel and Roxie Lord

Oxyfresh trio offers support to Indonesian tsunami victims

The destruction is immeasurable; the loss of life unimaginable. For 10 days in January 2005, long-time Oxyfresh Professionals Roxie Lord, Chris Brooke and Deepty Patel immersed themselves in the horrific aftermath of the Dec. 26 tsunami responsible for more than 300,000 deaths in Indonesia.

Their mission: to offer support in any conceivable way to tsunami victims living in an area Roxie says looked “like an atomic bomb had just blown everything apart.”

Working exhaustive 13-plus hour days under scorching heat, the Oxyfresh trio traveled more than 1,500 miles — frequently guarded by a full military escort in the politically turbulent region. Their journey included traveling through unprotected “danger zones” over rugged mountain passes in the middle of the night.

The ladies visited refugee camps in Jakarta, Medan and Banda Aceh where they helped deliver more than 3,000 kitchen sets, assemble thousands of hygiene bags and fill dozens of semi-trucks with supplies for victims. Perhaps most importantly, the trio offered compassion and comfort.

“At the first refugee camp, we all cried — tears streaming down our faces as we witnessed the complete devastation,” Roxie says.

Grief-stricken families graciously took Roxie, Chris and Deepty into their homes. “It was incredible the way these people took care of us,” says Roxie, of Salt Lake City, Utah, “They made us feel safe.”

Wherever the ladies went, they were greeted with warmth and gratitude. “What really blows me away is these people were not hardened by all the destruction and loss of so many lives,” says Christine. “They’re still very loving people with open hearts — they are so compassionate and so loving of us and one another. It was truly a gift to us in receiving everything we did from them.”

Virtually everybody in the region experienced significant losses. Millions of families were torn apart by the disaster. At many refugee camps, hundreds of pictures of the missing were posted on makeshift bulletin boards as desperate families attempted to find lost loved ones. Children made up a large portion of the countless faces. Authorities estimate up to 10,000 Banda Aceh children lost both parents in the disaster.

Unbearable Climate

Situated near the Equator, the Indonesian climate is unbearable, Deepty says. “The sun was so strong and the ground was burning. We could not bear to be outside more than 20 minutes — and these people live in outdoor camps. All around us, children with no shoes. We estimated 65 percent of these children had no footwear!”

The grief was difficult to handle, says Christine, of Chino Hills, California.

“I can’t even begin to describe the conditions these people live in. The destruction is beyond words — pure heartache for these people. Yet they were so excited to see Americans and know they were thought of and not forgotten about. There are moments, though, when we wonder if we’ve done enough, when we see how much still needs to be done.”

Roxie, Christine and Deepty traveled deep into some of the regions hardest hit by the tsunami; isolated areas of northern Sumatra that many support teams did not visit. “We discovered that many of the camps we visited have been largely ignored by relief organizations because of their remote locations and potential dangers,” says Roxie.

In the northern Sumatra province of Banda Aceh, the region closest to the cataclysmic earthquake deep beneath the Indian Ocean that triggered the tsunami, the destruction was incredible, says Deepty. “Mile after endless mile of wreckage — the need for continued help is severe.”

A native of India, Deepty, who now lives in Tampa, Florida, is accustomed to the less-than-desirable living conditions in Third World countries like Indonesia. But nothing could prepare her for the tsunami-ravaged region.

Echoing Roxie’s spine-chilling account of the devastation, Deepty said, “It looked like a region not crushed by water, but hit by a nuclear bomb. It swiped the whole area away in just seconds.”

Professionals Invited To “Sponsor A Village”

There is still a desperate need for relief aid in Indonesia, say Roxie, Chris and Deepty. During a conference call shortly after their 20-hour flight back to the United States, the trio urged the people of Oxyfresh to get involved.

“I would personally like to invite Oxyfresh Professionals to join me in sponsoring a village in Indonesia,” says Roxie, who is spearheading the effort. “After returning from Indonesia and witnessing the poverty, destruction, and corruption, I know I can’t stand idly by and do nothing.”

Roxie says she has connections with large organizations that are assisting in the rebuilding of many of the villages in the hard-hit area of Aceh in northern Sumatra. “We can’t help everyone, but we can take care of perhaps one village,” Roxie says.

“This may include providing medical assistance, dental attention and educational support to a village,” she says. “They are humble people. I fell in love with the Indonesian people and I know you will, too.”

To learn how to become involved in the sponsor-a-village program, contact Roxie at roxie_lord@yahoo.com.

Chris Brooke with a group of Indonesian children

Oxyfresh Steps Forward

Donations pay for more than 2,000 pairs of shoes to Indonesian children

Generous Oxyfresh Professionals, customers and corporate employees donated more than $5,000 to outfit Indonesian school children with new shoes — over double the fundraising goal. At $2.50 per pair, Oxyfresh family members helped purchase over 2,000 pairs of shoes.

Roxie, Chris and Deepty learned about the shoe donation program and immediately contacted Oxyfresh. The ladies worked directly with the organization collecting funds.

“The children in refugee camps we visited need uniforms and shoes so they can go back to school,” Roxie reports. “This means so much to them.”

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