12 November 2010

The articles are captured from the original writer, MsMarina (with her permission). SambalBelacan is just compiling articles to make easier to find. Any comments received will remain un-respond because it's not mine.Reach her at her very own blog at http://rantingsbymm.blogspot.com/ Please.

Wednesday November 10, 2010
Are we disaster’d out?

Most people feel overwhelmed by the numbers and scale of disasters and then feel paralysed. But every little bit helps, even if it is only RM10 or two T-shirts.

IN A short space of time there’s been a tsunami and an ongoing volcanic eruption in Indonesia as well as floods in Kedah and Perlis.

Further afield, there have also been floods in Pakistan and typhoons and hurricanes elsewhere, including the already suffering Haitians yet to recover from their earthquake early this year.

Despite this litany of natural disasters, so many of us have been barely able to lift a finger to do anything about them.

Blame it perhaps on the economic crisis that has made everyone’s wallet a lot leaner.

Or just that it’s been too much all at once. Whatever it is, people are not being as generous as they once were.

A couple of years ago when floods hit Johor, I organised a collection of clothes, food and other sundries to be sent to the victims there.

My office was quickly filled with donations and we even got help from a packing company and an airline to send the things down.

This time I’m hard put to know which disaster area to organise collections for.

There are some people whose natural reaction is to put our own citizens first.

Recently, my young friend Yeoh Ee Ping put up a video appeal for any volunteers to go up north with her and her brother to help with relief and clean-up work.

Nobody has responded, except to say they cannot go.

Perhaps it’s because few know Ee Ping. I do.

She is an enthusiastic young woman who is active at college in many activities while waiting to go for further studies abroad on a JPA scholarship.

Her family is a warm and supportive one, always encouraging her to do community service.

I met her online and then face-to-face and found her and her family genuine people.

So, when Ee Ping decided to go up north to help, she was serious about it.

She had organised contacts and accommodation for herself and her brother and left by bus on Monday for Kangar.

I am amazed her parents are allowing them both to go up on their own but then they know of her determination and trust her.

Such a story should inspire everyone.

But few people seem to be.

Perhaps other people have work and school to attend to.

But at the very least there should be donations being handed over for Ee Ping to take up.

Or maybe because of the long weekend, nobody had seen the appeal.

These days when we read of so many different disasters, it’s hard to know which to support.

Our fellow citizens need help and floods are indeed awful, but when you read of hot gas rushing down mountains burning entire villages in its wake, you also feel for the poor villagers around Mount Merapi.

You also feel for those in the remote regions of Pakistan displaced by floods, so much more numerous than ours and with so much less help reaching them, obstructed by geography, government inefficiency and politics.

How does one choose and what help is appropriate?

Most people feel overwhelmed by the numbers and scale of disasters and then feel paralysed.

But the trouble is, if everyone feels immobilised, then nobody will help.

What we need to understand is that every little bit helps, that even if we can only donate RM10 or two T-shirts, it’s still good.

Perhaps what relief agencies need to do is, instead of saying that they need large amounts of money or goods, to reduce the appeal to bite-sized contributions.

For example, to say what a certain amount of money would get one child.

I find people respond much better to this, when we can put a face to a disaster or make the relief needs human-sized.

A few years ago, I launched an online appeal to help a Timor Leste girl who needed a heart operation.

When I compared the small donation per person needed to one roti canai or pizza meal, people responded well and we raised the required money in no time.

A few years later, when I made a Christmas appeal for funds to help with the education of the same girl and 16 of her fellow orphans, the response was much more reluctant.

Perhaps the media should also broadcast more free appeals along with phone numbers of the relief agencies helping out.

This would raise awareness of the different disasters and what help was needed.

It’s not that people are not generous but that the sheer scale of the many disasters has paralysed them into inaction.

All they need is a little motivation.

Please contact your nearest Red Crescent or Mercy Malaysia office to see how you can help.

> Surf http://redcrescent.org.my/drupal/node/36 for contact details of Red Crescent state offices or call its national headquarters at 03-4257 8122, Disaster Management Centre at 03-4260 3242, or e-mail secgen@redcrescent.org.my.

The Red Crescent Society also has a Malaysia Relief Flood Fund. Donations, which are tax-exempted, can be banked into its Maybank Account No: 5144-2210-7228.

Mercy Malaysia can be contacted at 03-2273 3999 or e-mail info@mercy.org.my.