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Direct Relief’s history goes back to 1945, when William Zimdin, an Estonian immigrant who had amassed significant wealth in prewar Europe, began sending thousands of relief parcels containing food, clothing, and medicines to relatives, friends, and former employees who were rebuilding their lives in the aftermath of World War II.
Three years later, he established the William Zimdin Foundation as a California-based non-profit corporation, known today as Direct Relief. Since then, the organization has worked to help people who confront enormous hardship to recover from disasters and improve the quality of their lives. The tradition of direct and targeted assistance, provided in a manner that respects and involves the people served, has been a hallmark of the organization since its founding.
Photo credit: Direct Relief
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Direct Relief received many requests for assistance related to health issues beyond Europe. The organization’s leadership decided that providing medical assistance to local facilities would achieve the greatest overall impact. Direct Relief’s mission was refined to serve disadvantaged populations living in medically under-served communities throughout the world.
In 1962, Direct Relief became licensed as a wholesale pharmacy to secure prescription medicines for use abroad. This experience in handling pharmaceuticals led to the development of strict internal protocols regarding the suitability of types of products, inventory controls, and the qualifications of trained health professionals on the receiving end of aid shipments.
Since its inception, Direct Relief has provided aid in response to emergencies and to refugee populations. Beginning with postwar refugee assistance in Eastern Europe, Direct Relief has consistently responded with targeted medical aid following major emergencies.
Today, Direct Relief provides appropriate and specifically requested medical resources to community-based institutions and organizations throughout the world and across the United States.
Direct Relief improves the health and lives of vulnerable people in 100 countries. Increasingly over the last several years, the organization has continued to deliver more humanitarian aid to locally-run healthcare providers than ever before, resulting in more than $1 Billion USD (wholesale value) annually in charitable aid.
The heightened delivery of medicines and supplies allows Direct Relief’s extensive network of local healthcare facilities to address many of the most difficult challenges in global health, ranging from the leading causes of death and disease to long-term recovery in communities devastated by disasters.
If you want to find out more about their extraordinary work, visit their website www.directrelief.org and follow them on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.