Whitley's Journal

How to Aid the Tsunami Victims

Last Sunday's tsunami will go down in the history books as one of the greatest natural catastrophes of all time. It comes during a period of unusually high earthquake activity worldwide. Of course, since the geological community does not believe that there is any central force that triggers earthquakes, this fact will be attributed to coincidence.

Even stranger, there was a load of UFO activity over the whole Asian area, including unexplained booms that were attributed to meteor explosions over China and Indonesia. Then, a few days before the great quake, a smaller, less damaging one took place farther south along the same subduction zone.

I think that this website was the only media outlet in the world that reported the UFOs, the booms and the first quake. Now it's one of the few places reporting that a volcano in the Andaman islands has become active.

The quake took place right in the middle of the world's most volcanically active areas. There are 35 active volcanoes on Sumatra alone. Will they now start to become active? There is no way to know, and many of them in extremely isolated areas could get very active before being noticed, especially with the local infrastructure in chaos.

This is only to say that this is a large, complex natural event that may or may not be over. But, in the meantime, there is extraoridnary and unimaginable human suffering taking place, and a vast amount of aid going to Asia.

I have done some careful research about this. There are a lot of fake aid sites popping up already. URLs with the word "tsunami" in them are for sale on Ebay.

So, perhaps the safest thing is to just give to the Red Cross. That's aid that will work, for sure, but it will be directed toward immediate and general things like food, water and medicine.

I am receiving information that aid is pouring in, but there are gigantic problems. For example, the airport at Colombo in Sri Lanka is practically paralyzed with the sheer volume of supplies, many of them of marginal value. Meanwhile, a hundred miles away, people are dying of thirst and starvation. Aid officials feel that a conservative estimate is 80,000 more deaths from starvation, thirst and injuries, and that's if disease doesn't break out!

There are more efficient ways to contribute to the aid effort than sending supplies or giving cash to the huge international organizations. Not that they don't help, but they are going to buy supplies and ship them in--to airports and road systems that are themselves part of the catastrophe.

Some international aid will be effective. A number of countries, ours included, are using planes and helicopters to drop supplies directly into stricken areas. But the situation remains absolutely desperate, and the extent to which infrastructure has collapsed means that the people who are most desperate are going to be the last helped.

In Asia, there is no net. When the aid crews withdraw in a few weeks, their future is stark: go to the biggest city they can find and start begging, or die.

So, I have been looking for aid programs that will do more than provide food and water for a few weeks and then go away. I have found four, one huge, one midsized and two small. All of them have been on the ground in the area of years and have permanent infrastructure there.

Above all, all have a direct interest in restoring the area to long-term economic health. I recommend these resources for those of you who want to contribute both to immediate needs and to the long term restoration of economic health to the region. They are:

Oxfam. Unlike the Red Cross, they have an established network of aid workers in the areas who know what is actually needed, including things like materials to repair fishing boats and harbors, and new boats. To go to Oxfam's website, click here.

Direct Relief International. This is a smaller organization, in business for fifty years. They have been involved in Asia for most of that time, and their policy on tsunami relief is a good one: they will not pool their funds as most of the big organizations are doing, but will make sure that aid for tsunami victims is earmarked specifically for them. They are primarily focused on medical aid, but it is the long-term commitment that appeals to me. To go to their website, click here.

Many people would love to contribute directly to small, local groups who will convert their money into help immediately, on the scene. There is nothing like the feeling that the fifty dollars you gave got into the hands of a desperate family in a few hours or days. The problem here is that scams abound at this level of giving. So I have done some research, and can personally recommend an organization that operates in the area of India that was struck, is well established, and will use your money as intended.

Auroville is a community in Tamil Nadu state in India. It was founded in 1978 and is a group of about a hundred small settlements that are deeply involved with the life of the traditional villages in the area. It is an idealist community that is backed by the Indian government. In 1966 UNESCO passed a unanimous resolution commending it as a project of importance to the future of humanity.

People come to Auroville from all over the world, and in this crisis, the community is ideally position to help those around them. To learn more about them and learn how to give aid, click here.

Another way to do this in Sri Lanka is to contribute to Sarvodaya. This Sri Lankan group has a huge network throughout the country, including the affected communities. Sarvodaya has an excellent reputation, and your money will be well spent. To consider Sarvdaya, go to Sarvodaya.org.

Also, our prayer group is praying for a calmer year in 2005. To join your prayers to the group, click here.

God bless all of you. Next week, my predictions for 2005!

NOTE: This Journal entry, previously published on our old site, will have any links removed.



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