Google melted 100 macrae.net blogs down 9 dec 2005 ; this jumble is what's left of the past (apologies if stuff dated 2005 and earlier contains missing links); let's see if we can value a new future 1 2 3
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Wednesday, December 07, 2005
I'm a volunteer member of SAQUAKE.ORG (www.saquake.org) which is a U.S.-based alliance of professional and non-profit organizations working together to raise media and political awareness of the South Asian earthquake aid crisis. One of the things that we do have in place is letter-writing software that lets you write to your
To Amazon, Subject: South Asian Earthquake Relief
Dear Mr. Bezos,
As a regular shopper at Amazon.com and someone who has donated to the relief efforts for the Indian Ocean Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina relief efforts through your Web site, I am very disappointed to see that there is still no button to donate for South Asian Earthquake relief efforts.
The earthquake which struck South Asia on October 8, 2005 has left nearly 90,000 dead and more than 70,000 injured. The three million homeless survivors, many of whom are young or elderly, are still in desperate need of shelter, food, and medical assistance as they struggle to survive the onslaught of a brutal winter with subzero temperatures and snowfalls of more than ten feet. The first deaths from pneumonia and hypothermia have already occurred. Thousands more could die. The time to help these victims is running out quickly.
The United Nations and private aid agencies have repeatedly highlighted the shortfalls in emergency relief funding. Only about 40% of The $550 million U.N. Flash Appeal has been funded to date. The UN's World Food Programme (WFP) has received only 36% of the funding it needs to help feed the 2.3 million survivors who are dependent on food assistance. The UN's International Organization for Migration (IOM), which is providing winterized tents and other shelters, has received only 16% of its required funding. This is a deplorable situation.
Amazon.com has done great work before and Amazon.com shoppers have frequently demonstrated their commitment to humanitarian causes. With a record number of shoppers visiting your site for the holidays, this would be the perfect time for you to put a donation button on the Amazon.com home page and let the power and empathy of Americans be felt in another grief-stricken part of the world. In fact, there is no reason why this donation button should not appear on all of Amazon.com's international sites.
There are many reputable aid agencies working on the ground. Apart from directing shoppers to the WFP and IOM directly, Amazon.com can point them to Mercy Corps, CARE, IRC or Save the Children, all of which are doing incredible work in the field.
Thank you for your time and I hope that Amazon.com will do the right thing. As the U.N. Secretary-General said: “There are no excuses…. If we are to show ourselves worthy of calling ourselves members of humankind, we must rise to this challenge. Our response will be no less than a measure of our humanity."
Aid Agency Web Site URL's:
Mercy Corps: http://www.mercycorps.org/countries/pakistan/917
Save the Children: http://savethechildren.org/radio_earthquake_south_asia.asp?stationpub=i_hpb1_emer007
I do think that empathy (or the lack thereof) is a key issue.
"Donor fatigue" is on its way to becoming as much of a euphemism in the media as "collateral damage". It's a convenient way to disengage from the issue. However, to be fair, media awareness of the issue has improved since mid-October.
Government contributions have been far less than expected. It's remarkable how difficult it has been to fund the $550MM U.N. Flash Appeal. The U.N. has also been the victim of politics in this situation. Alex Renton from Oxfam has written about the U.N. funding crisis here.
Political representatives do take notice if their constituents communicate with them. That is one way to get governments to do more.
I would respectfully disagree with Ali in his view about donor fatigue. Donor fatigue is a description of the disengaging from giving where people have already given all that they are prepared to give in a given time period. There is an endless amount of giving a person can do in this world to help alleviate suffering and to help make things better for the occupants of this earth. But we have had three major disasters in a relatively short amount of time, and that wears on some donors.
FWIW, I gave to AmeriCares in support of their Pakistan earthquake related efforts. But I can see how donors could be burned out.
The South Asian earthquake has in no way received as much tv coverage as the Tsunami or Katrina (the print coverage, on the other hand, has been improving). If it had, I think we would be witnessing a much stronger donor reaction (even if we do take the Tsunami and Katrina into account).
I completely agree with Ali. This raises, of course, the reasons why TV coverage has been so meagre. These might include:
difficulty in physically accessing the worst-hit areas. Contrast Aceh, for instance, where access by sea was relatively straightforward.
media failure (in consequence?) to understand the scale of the disaster
tendency to over-localise the problem: why send a TV crew to cover a small corner of a small country like Pakistan? (thereby compounding a series of misconceptions!)
lack of Western holidaymakers: nothing immediate and all-too-easy on which to hang a Westen media story.
few obvious images of disaster (a whole region laid waste and reduced to rubble is less photogenic than say a fishing boat "parked" in a suburban street or a building with single large piece missing
the perennial media confusion about the difference between the public interest and what the public are interested in. Not remotely the same thing of course, but almost a tenet of professional faith to some journalists!
and could there be just a smidgeon of prejudice against featuring in a sympathetic light an overwhelmingly Islamic country, albeit a fairly secular one?
I probably suffer as much as anyone from 'emphathy fatigue' -- there is a lot of misery in the world and its hard to feel hopeful about whats going right when the number of things going wrong seems to be growing faster and faster. HOWEVER, i think there are things to make us hopeful amongst the suffering, so I thought I would point folks towards some goodness.
The North Face (an outdoor retailer, and in full disclosure, one of my company's corporate partners...) ran a gear drive and raised 5 tons! of tents, jackets, sleeping bags, etc for the victims of the earthquake. Gear coming from regular consumers. (The company also donated their own products, but I think 5 tons of gear from regular people is pretty amazing). Through a partnership with the network of volunteers across the US they shipped them to Kashmir. The North Face also sent a troup of athletes, familiar with the region and terrain to take the gear into the mountains and get it distributed.
They provide regular dispatches about what they are doing and what they are facing. Here's a link: http://www.humanedgetech.com/expedition/nf10/index.php