Donated Fire Fighting Equipment from Kansas Arrives in Paraguay

Kansas Firefighter Equipment Delivered in Paraguay

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A container of firefighting equipment has landed in Paraguay and has been delivered to members of Comité Paraguay Kansas (our counterpart) Emergency Preparedness Committee headed by Steve Richards.  This nears the end of a 7 year saga that began with a cultural exchange to Kansas by Jorge Martín.

In 2009 Steve and Lorraine Richards along with several other Kansas Paraguay Partners (KPP) attended a Partners of the Americas (POA) regional meeting in Chicago.  At this meeting we all learned about the Wisconsin Nicaragua Partners remarkable ability to ship donated firefighter equipment to Nicaragua.  Steve came away from this meeting with a smile and the name of the Denton Program.

Steve and Lorraine were the lead KPP members on the Emergency Preparedness Committee and envisioned sending donated equipment from Kansas to Paraguay.  Under a POA travel grant Paraguayan firefighters had been to Kansas and indicated the need for updated equipment.  But why would Kansas’ fire departments donate equipment to Paraguay rather then to the many small rural communities in Kansas? There are standards for firefighter equipment and with technological advancement the standards change and fire departments must update to the latest equipment. This means that Kansas fire departments must get rid of old equipment.  Steve and Lorraine were glad to help out.

Now KPP had an interesting problem.  Steve’s basement was soon out of space to house donated equipment.  Under Steve’s leadership KPP bought an old shipping container and Steve arranged for it to be housed on the Wichita Fire Department’s property.  This storage and work space also came with the beginning of Scott Fromme’s involvement in KPP.  Scott is a Wichita fireman with lots of international experience.  Under a POA travel grant he traveled to Paraguay to make certain that the donated equipment could actually be used rather than sit in some warehouse because it didn’t work in Paraguay.  Scott visited lots of Paraguayan fire departments and learned a few words of Guaraní that helped forge a bond with Paraguayans.

Donated equipment kept coming in and Steve was learning about the Denton Program. Here is how the Department of Defense describes the Denton Program.

The purpose of the Denton Program is to allow U.S. based non-governmental sources to transport humanitarian aid at little or no cost to the donor, while simultaneously putting the extra space on U.S. military transport assets to good use. This program is jointly administered by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Department of State (DOS) and Department of Defense (DOD). Transportation is generally available to close destinations such as Latin and South America; however, the availability of transportation to particular countries is affected by current military and political situations. Transportation can neither be scheduled nor guaranteed; and therefore, cannot be used to meet urgent needs or deadlines.

Steve met the challenge of satisfying two government agencies and KPP was approved.  This is far from the end of the story.  I will let Steve tell more of the story.  Please click and enjoy.

 The Rest of the Story

Human Ecology in Kansas and Paraguay

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Pictured here are Clotilde Benitez and Mimi Smith Zabalio at the Kansas Paraguay Partners (KPP) meeting March 8, 1014.  Clotilde is the Dean of the College of Human Ecology at the National University in Paraguay and a graduate of Kansas State University (KSU).  Mimi Smith Zabalio is a long time member and supporter of KPP and the founder of the Paraguayan Human Ecology program. In the 1980s Mimi was a professor at KSU and working with Paraguayan counterparts on a variety of projects.  Out of these efforts came support from the Kellogg Foundation to establish a program for educating rural development professions in the College of Agronomy at the National University of Asuncion. This became the Department of Human Ecology in Paraguay. Most of the faculty of this program received degrees from KSU.  Other KPP members involved in these efforts were Lois Redman, Barbara Stowe, Meredith Stroh and Clara Dubbs.  I am certain that I haven’t credited all of those involved and invite additions and corrections.

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