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Posted: Aug 09, 2010 7:03 PM PDT Monday, August 9, 2010 10:03 PM EST

Updated: Aug 09, 2010 7:32 PM PDT Monday, August 9, 2010 10:32 PM EST


GOLETA – Pallets of medical supplies sit ready for shipment to Afghanistan inside Direct Relief International’s Goleta warehouse.

“I think for groups that come in, foreign groups, its really important to work as closely as possible with the locals who have their own credibility which has been direct relief’s approach for decades”, says DRI CEO Thomas Tighe.

DRI staff have also worked with Afghan women in Herat in northern Afghanistan.

“The groups that we’ve been working with like the Afghan Institute of Learning it’s been run by women”, Tighe says, “training midwives, training women, educating women so that they can provide health services to other women, they totally deserve support and we’ve been helping them for eight years.”

A Direct Relief staff member worked with one of the victims murdered last week when the two were on a humanitarian trip to India last year.

Dr. Tom Grams was a dentist from Colorado.

She says he was a determined, driven and focused man who dedicated his life to treating children in poor remote areas of the region who did not have access to dental care.

His murder and the senseless killing of his fellow aid workers last week is a tragic reminder of the risks humanitarian missions face in war-torn Afghanistan and other trouble spots around the world.

“Some of the commentary and the writings of the people who were victims, they sensed that they were operating at some risk but they chose to do it”, Tighe says, “they had a passion for people who had nothing and they were just trying to help them so that would cause other people to kill them for that is its difficult to comprehend but it does happen.”

A fellow aid worker says Dr. Tom Grams had already delivered thousands of tooth brushes to remote villages in Afghanistan teaching villagers how to brush their teeth for the first time.

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