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Volunteering for International Disaster Relief

Earthquake disaster relief aid
Natural Disaster Relief by lucidwaters/DepositPhotos

When the town of Pilger, Nebraska, was ripped apart by twin tornadoes in June, 2014, musician and celebrity Bret Michaels and a flood of other volunteers participated in a massive cleanup effort of the town. In May, 2013 volunteers rallied around devastated Oklahoma City when tornadoes struck there. In October, 2012 it was Frankenstorm Sandy on the East Coast. Wherever disaster strikes, Americans never fail to rally to help their fellow U.S. citizens in need.

When the disasters are international, people are just as generous with their money, time, and spirit, eager to lend a helping hand. Typhoon Haiyan saw U.S. volunteers organize several disaster relief efforts bringing help, comfort, and supplies to the devastated Philippines. Volunteers poured in from around the world, many moved by the images they saw on television.

Relief and rebuilding after a natural disaster can takes years. For this reason, there is always work to be done. If you are not already associated with a disaster relief organization but are interested in getting involved, you might contact organizations such as International Disaster Volunteers or AmeriCares. There are also religious-based organizations such as Hope Force and World Relief. If you are searching for a specific organization or type of volunteer service, see this list of NGO directories.

In order to provide more effective relief, it is best to get training in the area you want to serve. Many organizations provide training but others only recruit volunteers with the skills they require. Reliefweb maintains a list of hundreds of humanitarian training programs.

If you find yourself watching an international natural disaster unfold on television and you want to help, you are going to have to have a ready passport, probably one with at least six months validity depending on the location of the disaster. Get your passport now so that you will be ready when the opportunity to serve arises. If you want to go immediately but do not have a valid passport, the fastest way to obtain one is with a passport expediting service.

Generally, it takes the U.S. Department of State four to six weeks to process passport applications from the date they receive your application and supporting documents. When international disasters occur, you can expect delays beyond the normal four to six weeks. A passport expeditor is extremely valuable to you at these times.

To get an emergency passport within 24 hours, the fastest way is to choose a registered passport expeditor with a proven track record of reliability, preferably one who comes highly recommended, and is in good standing with the Better Business Bureau. Only registered passport expeditors can submit first time emergency applications on your behalf. Registered passport expeditors are granted a certain number of expedited applications each day by the U.S. Department of State.

The process is straightforward; once you select an emergency passport expediting service provider, apply for express service online, providing your name, address, travel itinerary, delivery option, and payment details. The quicker you need your passport, the more it will cost you so apply as quickly as possible.

Fill out Form DS-11 online and print it out but don’t sign it. Gather supporting documents including an original or certified copy of your birth certificate, a color passport photo, a copy of your license to drive, and payment for fees which include a $110 application fees, $25 execution fees, and $60 expediting fee charged by the U.S. Department of State.

Take everything to the nearest application acceptance agency where an authorized agent will review the form and documents, administer an oath and witness the signing of your application. Everything will be placed in an envelope and sealed. Before it is, be sure to inform the agent that you plan to use a third party to submit the application at a processing center to be expedited. An authorization letter will need to be included in the sealed envelope and another should be mailed to the courier service with the packet. Send everything by express, overnight delivery or on site if the courier service has an office nearby.

Click here to apply online for 24 hour passport service.

Expedite Your Passport Now! Click to Call for Expedited Service!

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