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Unspeakable Tragedy

 
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Mats
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PostPosted: Wed 29 Dec, 2004 12:09 pm    Post subject: Unspeakable Tragedy Reply with quote

I am having a terrible time trying to deal with the mass deaths in Asia; how are forum members coping?


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llizard (aka ejm)
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PostPosted: Wed 29 Dec, 2004 12:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

MEF, I was just about to post about this.

All of us, if we can or haven't already, should make cash donations to

Red Cross (Canada) (1-800-418-1111),

DoctorsWithoutBorders
DoctorsWithoutBorders (Canada) (1-800-982-7903 or 1-416-964-0619)

or any other suitable relief organization.

It may be difficult to get through because of the high volume of calls. edit: I chose "The Red Cross" and "Doctors Without Borders" because they seem to be bonafied organizations that are already working in the devastated areas.

In Toronto, all police stations are accepting cash donations that will be sent directly to the Red Cross.


edit:

Doctors Without Borders (international fundraising page)
msf.org/donations/index.cfm

Red Cross UK:
bluepeter.redcross.org.uk/tsappeal/appeal.htm
(0870 60 60 900)

Red Cross Italy:
cri.it/pages/get?type=news&sec=ATT&cat=ATNEW&n=3





Last edited by llizard (aka ejm) on Fri 31 Dec, 2004 12:37 pm; edited 3 times in total
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llizard (aka ejm)
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PostPosted: Wed 29 Dec, 2004 1:34 pm    Post subject: Re: Unspeakable Tragedy Reply with quote

MEF wrote:
I am having a terrible time trying to deal with the mass deaths in Asia; how are forum members coping?


I too am overwhelmed, MEF.

I was amazed to hear about a Canadian survivor who was having difficulty getting her passport replaced at the Canadian embassy in Thailand (I believe it was Thailand) The officious idiots were insisting she pay for the replacement even though she had lost everything when the wave hit. (edit: and they told her it would take about 10 days!!!) Unbelievable. The official response from Ottawa was even scarier with some bozo saying something along the lines of "well you know that we are just coming back from a four day holiday and Ottawa hasn't had time to send instructions yet" Augh!!! One would think that the Canadian Ambassador would have just automatically sent (without first getting permission from Ottawa) directives for emergency passports to be issued so that any Canadians could leave the area to make room for all those people who suddenly have no homes to go to.

And I can't help thinking about other areas of the world where there is ongoing massive suffering and where the need for relief is pretty much as immediate as the massive amount of aid required in Southeast Asia right now.


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MrsBrown
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PostPosted: Wed 29 Dec, 2004 6:44 pm    Post subject: Re: Unspeakable Tragedy Reply with quote

MEF wrote:
I am having a terrible time trying to deal with the mass deaths in Asia; how are forum members coping?


I keep seeing the numbers rise and it boggles my mind. We are planning a donation to World Vision or Doctors Without Borders. I feel so sorry for the families who have lost so much--not only family members but livelihoods. What will they do?


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CAM
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PostPosted: Wed 29 Dec, 2004 8:41 pm    Post subject: Re: Unspeakable Tragedy Reply with quote

MEF wrote:
I am having a terrible time trying to deal with the mass deaths in Asia; how are forum members coping?


It helps to do some things that one feels to be constructive:

1. How about giving $1,000.00 to a good relief organization? (Or how about $100.00?) I recall that Gloria Steinem recommended giving 10% of one's income to good causes. I note that llizard and Lawless in Lotusland have posted a references to several relief organizations in another section that llizard started (a "sticky").

2. When discouraged about horrible news stories about disasters and armed conflicts, I find it helpful to look at more constructive news than is on the front page or on the TV newsclips. There is lots about what is being done to help at the UN Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) ReliefWeb earthquake/tsunami page. There are constant up-dates from news services and by way of press releases from organizations all over the world. And this site can help people figure out where they want to make their donations -- most of the big organizations have rapid response systems that enable them to deploy right away, and at the same time launch massive fund raising campaigns to help them do what they are already doing.

3. I see that comparatively less wealthy countries, e.g. Thailand, are receiving recriminations about the lack of early warning systems. Hey, these public officials whose heads may roll had less than an hour and no systems in place! I also note that the Pacific has a good early warning system, and Japan as an individual country has one that prevents loss from frequent tsunamis. But Japan is comparatively wealthy. It's not European and North American tourists on Christmas vacation, but ordinary people in poorer countries that suffer the most -- and the longest -- from earthquakes, storms, armed conflicts, etc. etc. etc. I also haven't noticed that any wealthy countries are being criticized for failing to live up to the long-standing UN General Assembly targets of 0.7 percent of GNP for Official Development Assistance (ODA) to poor countries. Canada has a reputation for being generous, and yet its ODA has declined over the past decade despite promises of the government to move toward the UN target. Yes, they promise an increase of ODA each year, and many Canadians are upset to think the government is giving more and more away. But in fact it's less and less. See the realities in the OECD chart (.pdf). (By contrast, Canadians seem to believe that the Canadian government's defence spending is very low, but in fact Canada is among the top military spenders in the world - see some figures of the pretty respectable Project Ploughshares ploughshares.ca/content/BRIEFINGS/brf026.html) Only a few northern European states give the targeted amounts in ODA. So... my idea for feeling better after hearing the news of the death toll in Asia: What if Canadians (and people in other rich countries) wrote to their governments and the MPs to show massive public support for living up to the Canadian reputation for generosity (by living up to UN standards)- and to earmark some ODA for increasing poor countries' capacity to develop early warning systems and other harm-reduction measures like good participatory development at the local level facilitated through reliable international and local organizations? This could even be cheaper than mopping up after huge tragedies.

That's my rant for today.

........................
edited by llizard to add link to the "sticky" post mentioned above: <a>title of thread is "urgent appeal for donations to relief organizations"</a>


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CAM
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PostPosted: Wed 29 Dec, 2004 11:59 pm    Post subject: Emergency preparedness Reply with quote

Here is some info about how to prepare for an emergency in Canada
ocipep.gc.ca/info_pro/self_help_ad/general/earthquake_e.asp

Lower mainland of BC and Vancouver Island are at risk of "the big one" (8 or 9), and Ottawa-Montreal are also at risk.

See the info at http://www.seismo.nrcan.gc.ca/hazards/index_e.php.

See the Canadian earthquake map at http://www.seismo.nrcan.gc.ca/eqinfo/caneqmap_e.php. I had no idea how many earthquakes there are in Canada.


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llizard (aka ejm)
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PostPosted: Thu 30 Dec, 2004 11:11 am    Post subject: Re: Unspeakable Tragedy Reply with quote

CAM wrote:
How about giving $1,000.00 to a good relief organization? (Or how about $100.00?)


For those people who feel they can't afford even $100, even $25 will be helpful.

I've been thinking that during this Christmas season, many of us here in the west are having parties or going to them. Let's say we're going to buy a bottle of wine and some sort of snacks for the party. I suggest that we equal the amounts of our party expenses with donations to one or more of the relief organizations.

ie:
  • wine: $10

  • snacks: $15

  • donation to relief organization: $25


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DataRyder
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PostPosted: Thu 30 Dec, 2004 11:50 am    Post subject: Re: Unspeakable Tragedy Reply with quote

llizard wrote:
For those people who feel they can't afford even $100, even $25 will be helpful.


And I think this is the key.

There must be people who feel that $500.00 or $1000.00 is beyond their means. I worry that some people might put off making the decision to donate because they wonder if smaller amounts really make a difference. This would be unfortunate.

Canada has a population of some 30 million people. Thinking conservatively, 1/5th of these must be old enough to think about making a difference. 6 million people x $25.00 is $150 million. No small amount.

DataRyder


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David
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PostPosted: Fri 31 Dec, 2004 5:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have to confess to being stunned by the scale of death. I want to help the people in Asia. I also want to help the starving and dispossed people of Africa and those suffering in other parts of the world. Who do I help and who do I ignore? Do I help whoever I see on TV today? What about the homeless in my own country? There's an endless queue of people knocking on my door asking for money. How can I decide who to help and who to refuse? It's just overwhelming. I can understand why some people remain in permanent indecision and so help none. I give regularly to several charities and I'm sure I can give more but there's always that uncertainty about the future isn't there? What if a family member needs a life-saving operation and I can't afford it because of all the money I've given to charities? I could have my own children walking around with holes in their shoes and never have a holiday because I want to save the world. There's a balance to be made somewhere but it never feels quite right. I wish I'd never started this, I'm feeling rather depressed now.
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llizard (aka ejm)
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PostPosted: Fri 31 Dec, 2004 11:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

David wrote:
I give regularly to several charities and I'm sure I can give more but there's always that uncertainty about the future isn't there? What if a family member needs a life-saving operation and I can't afford it because of all the money I've given to charities?


Obviously one has to be judicious. However, this seems to be an extraordinary situation calling for extraordinary measures. I think a lot of us have regular charities that we support. And a lot of us don't even question spending a small amount per week on extravagances like coffee, chocolate, magazines, movies.... This small amount (even one week's worth) could be donated to one of the charities without fear that we would not be able to cover the cost of a sudden family need for a life-saving operation.

These people in Asia are suddenly with nothing even though I gather they were not particularly in want before. And they are added to the ever growing numbers of people who are already starving and/or homeless.

Yes. It's depressing. But sometimes I think it's time for us fat cats in the west (and I'm no rose geranium in this case either) to make a few more sacrifices rather than shake our heads and moan that nothing can be done.

As Dataryder mentioned, if everyone donated what would seem to be a small amount to each donor, the resulting sum would be enormous.

(I note that a number of the charities have a "greatest need" box that one can check. This is what I usually do because I can't begin to assess what the greatest need might be.)


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PostPosted: Fri 31 Dec, 2004 12:03 pm    Post subject: Re: Unspeakable Tragedy Reply with quote

DataRyder wrote:
llizard wrote:
For those people who feel they can't afford even $100, even $25 will be helpful.


And I think this is the key.

There must be people who feel that $500.00 or $1000.00 is beyond their means. I worry that some people might put off making the decision to donate because they wonder if smaller amounts really make a difference. This would be unfortunate.

Canada has a population of some 30 million people. Thinking conservatively, 1/5th of these must be old enough to think about making a difference. 6 million people x $25.00 is $150 million. No small amount.

DataRyder



DataRyder, of course you are right! I suggested the large amount becauses people need to begin to think a bit bigger than dropping a dollar into a coin box. I gather that Canadians are really contributing. The main thing to avoid is packing up tins of food and blankets and old clothes and then trying to get organizations to ship them. I heard a UNICEF guy warning that these kinds of generous instincts are not very helpful for the large scale efficiencies that are needed for huge disaster relief.


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CAM
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PostPosted: Fri 31 Dec, 2004 1:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

David wrote:
I have to confess to being stunned by the scale of death. I want to help the people in Asia. I also want to help the starving and dispossed people of Africa and those suffering in other parts of the world. Who do I help and who do I ignore? Do I help whoever I see on TV today? What about the homeless in my own country?


Yes, the need is endless. But DataRyder is right -- if everyone in the developed world did a little bit, we could virtually eliminate poverty. It's staggering what can be done.

To manage our giving and avoid feeling helpless or depressed or annoyed about the constant solicitation, we give most of our support to one large relief organization (e.g. Red Cross, World Vision, Oxfam etc.) that has capacity and international networks for rapid disaster response. This is one area where size does count. We support one advocacy organization (Amnesty International) -- well actually I volunteer for another one, too. We support one or two local relief organizations (e.g. the local foodbank that also works with homeless people), and we are members of others organizations that do particular things we believe in. Oh yes, and we give a bit to the local arts community. If something comes along like the Tsunami disaster or the Darfur crisis, we give a bigger chunk to the large relief organization -- whatever we feel like.

I am ruthless about throwing away all solicitations from organizations I don't regularly support. I don't respond to telephone solicitations. I give token amounts only ($1 to $5) to door-to-door solitications of organizations whose names I recognize. I decline all others.

It makes one feel more powerful when we are networked with trusted organizations that are doing some good things.

I still drink too many cups of coffee and too many bottles of wine.


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PostPosted: Fri 31 Dec, 2004 5:09 pm    Post subject: Re: Unspeakable Tragedy Reply with quote

MEF wrote:
I am having a terrible time trying to deal with the mass deaths in Asia; how are forum members coping?


Yes, it's really wrenching. I am thankful that so far I have not heard any news of people I know who have been personally affected.

Perhaps you are feeling much the way I felt when hearing about the conflicts in Darfur where the deaths have reached up to 300,000 (but of course this has been over months, not days). But when you think of this in the light of what's been happening in Asia over the last few days, the number is really staggering! In just one region, more than double the currently estimated deaths from the earthquake/tsunami. In September the World Food Program fed at least 1.3 million (!) people from the Darfur region (they fed only 900,00 in August and couldn't meet their targets of 1.2 that month because rains made roads impassable). There are more than 1.45 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and 200,000 refugees in the neighbouring country, Chad. http://www.un.org/apps/news/infocusRel.asp?infocusID=88&Body=Sudan&Body1= But the UN has had trouble raising money to help with that crisis - the oil revenues for the Sudan government and its friends mean that politics are majorly in the way. (South Sudan's two million -- mainly Christian/animists - killed over the past 20 years didn't get much attention, either. See ploughshares.ca/content/ACR/ACR00/ACR00-Sudan.html )

I guess this could be depressing - perhaps human rights activism is my of avoiding depression. If I am active, I don't get depressed, although I do sometimes get a bit tired if I am involved in a campaign. I have to create some limits - e.g. one letter a month unless there is a particular campaign on, and then I may devote hours or days.

DataRyder's every-little-bit-helps approach is also good with advocacy. I think advocacy may be as important as donations, and it doesn't cost very much. It takes time. If many Canadians took the time to write to their government to urge them to actually meet the 0.7% for ODA it could really make a serious difference. (As long as development monies were spent carefully and on sound development strategies, and not just on travel boondoggles for Canadian consultants).

I guess armed conflicts that emerge gradually "over there" do not arouse as much widespread compassion (and fear?) as earthquakes etc that happen suddently, and could happen anywhere. Not sure why, since trauma and loss among children and civilians is just as bad as in natural disasters (or worse?)


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