Need to Help

I wanted to come to Sri Lanka yesterday (29th) and give my physical help to any and all who needed me. When I called the Red Cross and 4 other prominant charities’ Head Offices here in the UK and France, they said my help wasn’t needed. How can this be? Please let me know where to come and report to, and I will bring money, as many supplies as I can. I feel so helpless sitting here. I am trained in first aid and my trade is IT & Telecommunications – quite important I feel, in the given circumstance? Anyone at all, at any time, please call me if you want me.

From the ProPoor Blog on December 31, 2004

A cardiologist and his niece from Houston, Texas; a psychotherapist from Brooklyn, New York; two friends from Melbourne, Australia – these are some of the individuals that joined non-governmental organization (NGO) representatives working on tsunami relief initiatives taking place in the South India state of Tamil Nadu at an informational exchange meeting on January 2, 2005 in Chennai (Madras). Some, like the cardiologist and psychotherapist, got on a plane and arrived in Chennai a couple of days after the disaster. Others abandoned their vacations with family and friends and came from different parts of India to see how they could help. People from all over India, and all over the world, have come, given money, collected clothing, sent supplies, and researched ways in which they could help. Tsunami blogs have popped up every day. This tremendous outpouring of support is overwhelming the ability of many NGOs to effectievly coordinate the volunteers and material assistance. Most NGOs have so much used clothing that they have stopped taking such donations, and many are telling potential volunteers to wait a little bit, when help will surely be needed for the more difficult and time-consuming tasks of rehabilitation and reconstruction.

Where do things stand a week after the earthquake and resulting tsunami? It seems that NGOs, and surprisingly, the Government, have done an incredible job of reaching most of the victims of the tsunami in Tamil Nadu with immediate relief. However, relief efforts are still underway for the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, where much of the former coastline is still under water, and few NGOs operate in the restricted islands.

What can you do now? Unless you speak Tamil, or have a skill specifically requested by an NGO, wait. (If you are a Tamil speaking woman with counseling experience – we need you!) Send money if you can, because almost everything can be purchased in the area. (Do not send used or even new clothing, unless they are saris (and petticoats and blouses) or lunghis.) Most of all, do not forget the many millions of others that need your help. Volunteer in your community!

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