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#2292 - Thursday, October 20, 2005 - Editor: Jerry Katz
Pick your Fatigue
In this issue I've included information on donating to efforts intended to aid recent natural disasters, especially the South Asia earthquake. As the enclosed letter says, for the most part we're dealing with donor fatigue these days, or disaster fatigue. And with the stock markets plunging everyday, and gas prices soaring, stock market fatigue and unleaded fatigue. Not to mention coming soon to a household near you ... Holidays Fatigue! On the other hand, all the more reason to donate: A good way to ease all fatigue.
I donated at https://www.paypaq.com/redcross/en/. The Canadian government is matching funds until October 26. Americans may donate there as well.
"God is a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh." Voltaire
The following comes from a blog. It quotes a letter that was received by the blogkeeper. I've kept both parties anonymous. Mostly Canadian sources are mentioned. --Jerry
~ ~ ~
a bucket of ice water thrown in the face, then some tears I was just working on a story when I got an e-mail from my wife. My GoogleTalk e-mail snippet appeared near the system tray:
Subject: Fwd: Financial Help Desperately Needed
Message:"Don't normally read this but I find it quite compelling... what about our older sleeping bags and some of the camping stuff we don't use much anymore?"
I opened the message and noticed that it was originally sent from a Systems Analyst at the district health authority where my wife works as a doctor. After scrolling through 20 or 30 pages of e-mail addresses, I noticed from the size and position of my scrollbar handle that there are way more addresses to go through. I hit CTRL + END to go to the end of the document, and then PG UP once or twice to read the beginning of the actual message. And this was the message (hopefully by the end, you'll see why I didn't cut the text in this entry):
For those of you who disapprove of this type of email, please accept my apologies.
2005 has been a horrific year when it comes to human suffering due to catastrophic natural disasters around the globe. It began last Christmas with the Tsunami that killed huge numbers of people. Hurricanes Rita and Katrina devastated the lives of 10's of thousands of people in the southern US.
And now the massive earth quake in Pakistan. The number of dead is now well over 50,000 and growing rapidly. Millions of people are homeless with winter only weeks away. Tens of thousands are injured, and tens of thousands are displaced having lost all or part of their families.
The reason that I am writing this email is because there seems to be a phenomenon known as "donors fatigue" at work here. The international community (us) normally gives generously in times of humanitarian crisis. This time we are not. I have heard several folks on TV analysing this phenomenon. Given the size and magnitude f the current situation in Pakistan, international financial donations are way down. Many people seem to have the "I've already given" attitude, or the "Oh, another disaster, eh?" attitude.
When the Tsunami happened last Christmas it was huge news. Everyone was talking about it. Here at work the halls were buzzing. I can honestly say that in the nearly 2 weeks since this earthquake I have not heard a single person here at work mention it to me...... Donor Fatigue.
This morning on the way to work I listened to a CBC news report on the earth quake. It spoke of parents in high mountain villages who are amputating limbs from their children because help has not arrived quickly enough and gangrene was setting in. These children have been injuring and in agony now for almost 10 weeks. As a parent I cannot even comprehend such a horrible situation. It also spoke of winter being so close and the fact that millions of people are homeless.
We need to help. I believe it is everyones duty to talk about this and to make others realize that even as we are reading this email our fellow human beings are dying. They are dying needlessly because there is not enough help. And the relief organizations are predicting that there is going to be another massive blanket of death if relief efforts are not significantly stepped up before winter sets in.
Again ... please accept my apologies if this email makes you uncomfortable. Thanks.
Canadian Red Cross
World Vision Canada
I was crying by the time I reached the end of that letter. I also realized that I've been avidly following the news about the earthquake in Pakistan, but I hadn't actually done anything about it. Incredibly, I've even thought that I was doing my duty just by informing friends and family of the current death toll over there. And despite hearing just yesterday that a worldwide pledge of 20,000 tents has been made for the region but that 10 times that amount is actually needed, it never even occurred to me that I should go to the basement to see if I have any extra blankets or equipment that I could send over there.
So I have a little research to do, because I'm not aware of any place locally where I can drop off real goods to be shipped to the front, as it were. But I'll figure it out today and get a care package together before we leave for Montreal on Saturday. And maybe I'll send a personal letter of my own to my address book, too. The message I quoted above was sent to over 10 thousand people in one fell swoop. Beautiful!
preliminary research on donating material goods to Pakistan relief effort So, it would seem that this is just not done. Not in Canada, anyway. I phoned several of the major charitable organizations to inquire about it, and none of them accept in-kind donations of any kind. On the Reuters AlertNet website, this article about post-disaster myths provides a few examples of why in-kind contributions are not as helpful as cash. After speaking with an official at CIDA, a federal government agency dealing with humanitarian relief, I learned that the costs involved for storing and shipping in-kind contributions is very high, and most organizations don't want to deal with the hassle. So since it appears that giving money is the best way to help at the moment, we donated $100 this afternoon. And as with the 2004 tsunami, the Canadian government is also matching all donations made until Oct. 26th. In the meantime, more information and links are below, and this CBC piece covers Kofi Annan's appeal for increased aid.
Oxfam Canada (Pakistan relief effort | donations)
Multiple aid flights via plane and helicopter currently underway to affected areas; Oxfam also to take over production of a tent-making factory in Lahore. No in-kind donations of any material goods are currently accepted.
CARE Canada (Pakistan relief effort | donations)
In conjunction with the federal government's Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA's earthquake effort), CARE is focusing on providing shelter, blankets and emergency supplies to the affected areas. No in-kind donations of any material goods are currently accepted.
WorldVision Canada (Pakistan relief effort | donations)
Also in conjunction with CIDA, WorldVision is focusing shelter, blankets and emergency supplies. No in-kind donations of any material goods are currently accepted.
UNICEF Canada (Pakistan relief efforts | donations)
Various child-focused efforts have been underway through UNICEF since the outset.
Canadian Red Cross (Pakistan relief effort | donations)
Their most recent press release describes a single Red Cross worker leaving Oct 14th to carry out a 2-week assessment mission in Pakistan,, but I assume that more efforts than that are being made. The Red Cross also discourages in-kind donations explicitly on their website:
In-kind donations of food, clothing and other items, while well-intentioned, are not the best way to help those in need. There are tremendous processing and transportation costs involved in shipping these items to beneficiaries. Local purchases of food and clothing are more culturally appropriate and effective. Red Cross supplies can be purchased in the immediate area, thereby reducing transportation costs. Cash transfers to the affected region provide the optimum flexibility to our Red Cross colleagues so they can meet the most urgent needs.
Embassy of Pakistan in the US (how to support the affected | direct donations to Pakistani government)
Hidaya Organization (website | in-kind donation instructions)
This California-based organization is setting up container shipments to Pakistan and they ARE accepting in-kind donations, but they're nearly only ones I can find who are.
Human Development Foundation (donations)
This Illinois-based org may also accept in-kind donations, but I haven't called them yet to ask about it.
InterAction (Pakistan relief efforts | guide to giving | making material donations)
I just found this organization at the end of my search and don't have time to look into it further, but it might be helpful too.
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