Sunday, September 24, 2023

Charity Sunday: Where is help needed? #Hotosm #DisasterResponse #CharitySunday

Charity Sunday banner

On the 8th of September, a devastating earthquake near Marrakesh, Morocco killed thousands and left tens of thousands homeless. Then, just two days later, torrential rains in Libya caused several dams to collapse, flooding vast swathes of countryside in Derna and once again claiming thousands of lives.

Many organizations are working together to help the victims of these two disasters. This Charity Sunday, I am supporting the work of the Humanitarian Open Street Map Team ( which focuses on creating accurate, high-resolution, up-to-date maps based on satellite imagery and other sources, in order to serve the needs of rescue teams, damage assessment personnel, and others who need to know where help is needed. 

You’ve probably not stopped to think about the importance of geographic information in a disaster situation, but consider:

How can supplies reach remote communities if we don’t know which roads are passable and which ones are flooded, collapsed or blocked by debris?

How can we estimate emergency housing needs without an inventory of building destruction?

How can we assess how many people require emergency supplies without knowing the locations and populations of affected settlements?

You can read an excellent description of the ongoing work by HOTOSM in response to these events here:

In particular, you’ll see that the data captured by HOTOSM volunteers is used by many other charitable and emergency response organizations – and that it is all available for free.

If you have some time and want to do something concrete, you can sign up as a volunteer mapper. You’ll get the training you need, learn some fascinating skills and technologies, and have the satisfaction of knowing you’re making a personal contribution to improving the well-being of victims in Libya and Morocco.

You can also donate, of course. Every dollar is welcome.

If you don’t have the time or the money – then at least leave a comment on this blog post. I will donate two dollars to HOTOSM for every comment I receive.

For my excerpt, I have a snippet from my MMF historical erotic romance Monsoon Fever. This book features a scene in which the monsoon rains trigger landslides on Jonathan’s and Patricia’s tea plantation in mountainous Assam, wiping out the local village.

To thank you for visiting today, I will give a free copy of this book to one person who comments.


When a charismatic lawyer arrives at their remote Indian tea plantation, he tempts a married couple with forbidden carnal delights.

Priscilla and Jonathan have grown apart. Anil Kumar, solicitor to Jon’s father, enchants both Priscilla and Jon with his beauty, poise and wisdom. Will the illicit cravings he excites be the final stroke that destroys their marriage? Or the route to saving it?

Find all the buy links at


Priscilla had visited the village several times, bringing sweets for the children and English soap for their mothers. She hardly recognised the scene of devastation before her now. There was no sign of the wooden huts that sheltered the workers. She saw only a vast sea of mud, with splintered planks and beams jutting out at odd angles. Half naked men dug frantically in the muck, looking like an army of demons in the shifting lantern-light. Children clung to their mothers, wailing or watching the rescue efforts silent and wide-eyed. An elderly woman, tattered sari clinging to her wizened body, crouched under a tree half-crushed by a huge boulder.

Priscilla saw Jon near the far perimeter, wielding a shovel and yelling orders to the other men. She stumbled across the former village, the treacherous mud sucking at her feet, and threw herself into his arms.

Darling! I was so worried.” she cried. “Are you all right?”

Jonathan held her so tight she could scarcely breathe. His chest was bare and streaked with dirt. His blond hair was black with rain and soil. “Priscilla! Thank God! I’m so glad to see you!”

How bad is it?”

Bad—nearly all the houses were destroyed—but it could have been much worse. Most of the villagers were up at the shrine when the hillside gave way. We think that there are only a few people buried. We’re trying to find them before it’s too late.”

Let me help. I can dig, too.” She held up her spade. Jonathan looked at her for a moment, appraising her strength, then nodded. “Take the north east quadrant. Be careful—you don’t want to slice into the person you’re trying to rescue.”

What about me? Where do you want me?” Anil had come up behind them during their embrace.

Anil! Wonderful! Can you organise the men working in the south west? I’m not sure that they understand everything that I’ve been telling them.”

Certainly, I’ll do what I can.” Anil strode off toward the group that Jon had indicated.

Priscilla waded over to the area Jon had assigned to her. The Indian men eyed her curiously as she dug her spade into the saturated dirt. The mud resisted, sticky and heavy as cement, but she refused to be discouraged. She raised one spade-full, then another, scanning her expanding excavation each time for any sign of a body.

Her shovel hit some buried wood. The impact sent a jarring shock back through her shoulders. She thought that the thump sounded hollow. Priscilla dug in again, listening more carefully. Definitely hollow.

All at once, she heard a muffled cry, a human voice. “Jon! Over here, I think there’s a partly collapsed house here, and someone’s inside. Alive!”

The men swarmed over to where she was digging. “Careful now,” Jon cautioned. “Don’t disturb the timbers or the whole place might collapse.” He showed them how to lift off the soil in layers, standing away from the hole so that their weight would not affect the precariously balanced ruins underneath. It took half an hour, but finally they pulled an old man out of the ground, crushed and bleeding but conscious.

A shout rang out from the other side of the mud field. Anil’s group had located another body. Priscilla went over to lend her spade to the efforts. Digging side by side with her husband and the Indian lawyer, she worked steadily to strip away nearly two feet of dirt. Underneath, they found the mangled corpse of a woman cradling an infant. The woman was beyond help. The baby, though, let out a lusty wail as the fresh air filled its lungs.

Priscilla bent down and took the naked child in her arms. It was covered with scratches and abrasions, but miraculously unharmed otherwise. A boy, perhaps six months old. He looked up at her with chocolate-coloured eyes and cooed, waving his chubby limbs.

Tears streamed down Priscilla’s cheeks, mingling with the raindrops.

Thanks for visiting! Please, do take the time to leave a comment!


Anonymous said...

Lisabet, this is not really anything I ever thought about--sadly and stupidly, as it makes perfect sense that it needs to be thought about. Great cause! The reports from both Morocco and Libya are horrific.

I read this book and loved it!

Anonymous said...

What a sad event but people need to be made aware of what is going on around us in the world. Such a wonderful cause to support.

Laura Strickland said...

Such a worthy cause. If we put ourselves in the places of people in need, we realize that everyone should receive our compassion.

Tina Donahue said...

What a great charity - good for them. I absolutely LOVE the cover for Monsoon Fever. Classy, artistic, and beautiful! :) said...

Thanks, Lisabet, for a) heightening awareness of these disasters through your fiction and, b) generously donating for each post made here. I'm looking forward to reading Monsoon Fever.

aerokorngal said...

Would love to read!

Debby said...

What a great charity! Thanks for doing this.

Adriana said...

tweeted and shared on Facebook - I did not know about this organization, will share with more friends

Kate Hill said...

Thank you for this informative post. I didn't know about HOTOSM. I'll be sure to share the post.

Colleen C. said...

Another wonderful sounding charity...

Larry Archer said...

This is a great organization to highlight. Thanks for your support.
Foxy & Larry

Lucy Felthouse said...

Fantastic charity choice, Lisabet. Thanks so much for bringing it to my attention.

Lisabet Sarai said...

Congratulations to Tina, who has won the free book. And thanks to all who commented. I'm about to go donate $30 to HOTOSM.

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