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Home Dutch News Dutch pair honoured for relief work

Dutch pair honoured for relief work

Published on 05/10/2005

5 October 2005

AMSTERDAM — Time Asia has named Help International Phi Phi (HIPP) as one of the heroes of the continent.

The organisation was set up by Dutchmen Emiel Kok and Ralph Toll in response to the devastation of the Indian Ocean Tsunami.

Time Asia picked heroes in the categories sport, entertainment, activism and tsunami in its latest edition.

Kok was a diving instructor on the Thai island of Phi Phi and decided to return there from the Netherlands on hearing of the news of the tsunami on 26 December 2004.

More than more than 700 people died on the island, and shops, restaurants and guest houses were flattened. The Thai authorities declared the island uninhabitable, Time Asia said.

Kok helped found the HIPP organisation with a handful of other foreign tourists and expatriates.

“It was the island of death,” Kok told Time. “It smelled awful. There were bodies everywhere. The streets were man-high in debris.” Toll stayed in the Netherlands and established the website  to coordinate the group’s efforts.

The first priority was to feed and house hundreds of Thai refugees from Phi Phi living in makeshift camps near the mainland town of Krabi.

“The group also pinned up hand-written leaflets at nearby backpacker haunts, appealing for volunteers to clean up the island. Soon they came, a few young backpackers at first, then scores of tourists of all ages and nationalities — a symbol of the way the world rallied to aid the millions devastated by the tsunami,” Time said.

The cleanup began with the help of local Thai refugees, whom Hi Phi Phi hired and paid.

The group’s website still gets 60,000 hits per day, and has become a meeting place and support group for survivors, the bereaved and former volunteers.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]

Subject: Dutch news