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January 4, 2005 > Aid To Tsunami Victims

Aid To Tsunami Victims

by Arathi Satish

Thousands of people and organizations all over the world rushed to help the tsunami affected regions in Southeast Asia. The question however is, what is the best way to supply aid and support to the victims of the merciless tsunami waves? Millions of survivors could suffer from dehydration and disease, increasing the death toll alarmingly. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan pointed out that the global catastrophe needs a fitting response as it would be hard to reach and care for 5 million homeless people.

Aid has started reaching people in the stricken areas, but due to lack of coordination and destruction, the process has neither been easy or very effective. Relief workers and local people, faces covered with masks from the stench of the decomposing bodies, have been trying to locate people who are alive and need help. Fear of polluted water and disease is high. Corpses bloated by water and tropical heat hinder the progress of aid workers. Officials struggle to dispose rotting corpses and sometimes bury or cremate them as soon as they are found. The true figures will probably never be known. The toll in Indonesia alone could hit 100,000, said Indonesian Health Minister Siti Fadillah Supadi.

Indonesia is holding an international summit on Jan. 6, to discuss aid and reconstruction needs. Aftershocks and false warnings have unnerved survivors in India. President Bush, who has been criticized for his slow reaction, is delegating Secretary of State Colin Powell with brother, Jeb Bush, governor of Florida State to visit the affected region to assess needs. Analysts are estimating the damage due to tsunami to be about $14 billion. As of today, the President has committed $350 million aid, up from the original $35 million offer.

Donating is important, but it is important to check out the organization before donating to make sure the aid given reaches the victims as soon as possible. Various local, valley and Bay Area companies are trying to aid the relief effort. Companies are donating medication, clothes and wireless gear for communications. San Jose based Lee's Sandwiches, Cisco Systems, Santa Clara chip maker Intel, Yahoo, Well's Fargo Bank and Kaiser Permanente's Northern California Division have donated aid in the thousands of dollars. Among the corporate givers at the national level are Pfizer, Coca-Cola, Exxon Mobil, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Merck, Johnson & Johnson, Abbott Laboratories and countless others.

It is said that drops of water makes the ocean. Every donation made helps the victims of the tsunami. Donations can be made to international relief organizations that provide services, food and medicine. The American Red Cross has guidelines for effective giving in support of disaster relief. They discourage donations of collected goods and individual items. People interested should read the guidelines on the various websites before making donations. Many organizations are listed on the embassy websites of the affected countries. Some of them are mentioned here and have local chapters.

The International Federation of Redcross and Red Cresent Societies. www.ifrc.org/helpnow.
American Red Cross. www.redcross.org.
United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). www.unicefusa.org.
India Development and Relief Fund. www.idrf.org.
Dharmapala Institute for Buddhist Meditation, 409 S. Temple Dr., Milpitas, CA 95035 or (408) 934-3985 is collecting donations for Sri Lanka victims.
India Community Center. www.indiacc.org.
Doctors Without Borders. www.doctorswithoutborders.org/donate.
American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin. www.aapiusa.org/aapi.nsf.
BAPS Care International. www.bapscare.org.
Association for India's Development. www.aidindia.org
The American Council for Voluntary International Action, InterAction, lists religious and non-religious organizations that are accepting relief donations for the tsunami/earthquake victims at www.interaction.org.

 
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