Saturday, January 1, 2005

The Gift of Giving

A co-worker of Ian's offered his time and talents (he's lived there before and speaks the language) to head over to Indonesia. He was turned down by State, they have enough people currently staffing the consular and American services sections.

If someone as able as Chris was turned down to fly in and help, what can the rest of us do to feel like we're doing -something-? Here's a guideline from the Center for International Disaster Information:
The gist is the following: "Financial contributions allow professional relief organizations to purchase exactly what is most urgently needed by disaster victims and to pay for the transportation necessary to distribute those supplies. Unlike in-kind donations, cash donations entail no transportation cost. In addition, cash donations allow relief supplies to be purchased at locations as near to the disaster site as possible. Supplies, particularly food, can almost always be purchased locally - even in famine situations. This approach has the triple advantage of stimulating local economies (providing employment, generating cash flow), ensuring that supplies arrive as quickly as possible and reducing transport and storage costs. Cash contributions to established legitimate relief agencies are always considerably more beneficial than the donation of commodities."
Please read the rest of the document, it's really informative and makes you feel better if "all I can do" is send money; or if you really want to learn how to be involved hands-on.
CNN has put up a lengthy list of aid groups accepting monetary donations at
Most of the sites will let you choose the specific disaster you'd like to aid, the tsunami victims being the biggest movement at the moment, but with ongoing work in Sudan, Afghanistan and other troubled spots around the world that all need funding. Do read through the sites. Every organization breaks down its expenses differently so you know exactly which dollars are going where. Also, as an example, clicking on the "Make a Donation" link for Doctors Without Borders will bring up a notice saying the outpouring has been so great for the Asia relief that they're asking for any further donations to be sent to the general Emergency Relief Fund to continue supporting other relief efforts.
If you can, choose a relief service and send then something. The crisis along the Indian Ocean is far from over just because the waves have receded, and hundreds of thousands of lives need to be rebuilt. Even if we can't give them water, bandage their wounds or dry their tears, we can each do our part and change their world.

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