Florian Staudt

Online Editor SOS Children's Villages Worldwide HGFD

Enabling a worldwide rescue team

On Thursday 7th November 2013, Typhoon “Haiyan” hit the Philippines bringing death and destruction to the people there. I was far away from the disaster area: in Munich, Germany in my online editing office at SOS-Kinderdörfer weltweit - Hermann Gmeiner Fonds Deutschland e.V.

On Friday 8th November, we received an e-mail from SOS CV International (KDI) with first information about the situation in our projects in Calbayog, where families from the neighbourhood took refuge in the SOS Children’s Village. We did not know yet about the exact situation in the SOS Children´s Village in Tacloban, which was the city hit first by the typhoon. But what we knew was enough for a news article. I edited and published a first posting on our website. During the whole weekend I saw pictures and reports on TV showing that people were in urgent need of help. Saturday and Sunday I frequently checked my e-mails waiting for more information about how our colleagues in the Philippines were able to handle the situation.

I read about what happened in Tacloban in the first round of mails from KDI. The Children´s Village of Tacloban was located directly in the disaster area, the town was totally destroyed - but thank God children and co-workers were not injured. Our press officer sent out a first press release on the weekend. First information came in by SOS Children’s Villages International that SOS was planning an emergency relief programme (EP). On Monday we had concrete information about the planned EP to support families in Tacloban. This was the go-ahead for a fundraising campaign to provide help.

In the case of emergency relief programmes, the online team takes the lead because we can respond the fastest. As an online editor I have to publish an internet page with information about the EP and produce a special-themed newsletter. I knew that we could really make an impact: The media echo in the news was big. In such cases a lot of people are willing to help and donate. I have been an online editor since 2005 and I have experienced this before, e.g. after the earthquake hit Haiti. I knew we had to respond fast, because the closer to the disaster we send out our newsletter, the more people will donate. And I knew if we want to be fast we have to work together.

So I was under pressure, but at the same time I was also calm. Since my team leader Sebastian and I have worked together for years we both know we can rely on each other. I started to prepare a report about our emergency programme project for the website. Together with my colleague Sebastian, we started to design the newsletter: I wrote the editorial, he produced the banner and links.

Around 11 a.m. we had a meeting with our colleagues in the marketing department to coordinate our mailings. We planned a newsletter for the same day; they prepared a letter that was to be sent out as soon as possible. Since the letter had to be printed, it was clear that it would be sent out a few days later. In the meeting I presented the report I had prepared and we agreed on an emotional picture of a boy in the disaster area: The boy had a laceration. In the background you saw nothing else but debris.

After the meeting, Sebastian and I completed the newsletter and the page on our website – and then we pressed the button to send out the newsletter. Actually it was me who pressed the button. Right after we sent out the newsletter we could see on the web statistic and newsletter reports how people responded. We could see that a lot of people opened the newsletter and many started to donate. We didn´t know how much it would exactly be, but one thing was clear: the campaign was very successful. This was a moving moment for me.

Later we received more information about our emergency relief programme including stories. The first story was about an SOS family in Tacloban describing their dramatic getaway to the top of the roof during the typhoon. It was very emotional. I edited the story and we sent it out as a press release. Also this one was very successful and especially websites published it. In the following days and weeks I published updates on our website and we sent out two more newsletters. In the end it was a great fundraising success! SOS Children’s Villages Philippines was able to support a lot of children and families in the disaster area. I was happy that I was able to contribute to help these children and families.

Florian Staudt

is online editor at SOS Children's Villages Worldwide, Hermann Gmeiner Fonds Germany e.V. He joined SOS Children's Villages in August 2005.

As a co-worker in the communication department, he writes and edits news and stories for the website as well as press releases. He sends out newsletters, edits pictures, uploads and embeds movies and so on. He is involved in advancing HGFD’s website (functionalities, design), but he is not a techie. He is a journalist: Florian started as a freelancer for a local section of the nationwide newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. He completed a journalism trainee programme at a regional newspaper (Münchner Merkur) and worked as an editor for a tabloid in Munich (tz).

Florian has been married to wife Rumbidzai since 2008. Rumbidzai comes from Zimbabwe and they met when she did an internship with HGFD in Munich. They have a daughter named Maita who is 3 years old. Florian’s parents and his two sisters and their families all live in the region of Munich, where he was born in 1971.
Watching movies, reading, listening to music, and meeting friends is how Florian Staudt passes his leisure time and he loves to spend time with Maita. Since she was born, she claims the biggest part of his leisure time.
Florian has lived in Munich, Germany all his life, but he realises that he lives in a privileged club. Being a journalist, he has the idealistic belief that information can contribute to make the world a little bit better step by step. He found his place as an online editor, writing news and stories about our work for children in need.