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December 28, 2004

There is lot more to do

Overall toll count keeps climbing and to make things bad we have this real danger of  epidemic spreading all over the place. This calamity is without any parallel and we will be discovering heart wrenching stories for many months.  In times like these one wonders what more we can do ?

Donating money is the easy and the necessary part, real challenge lies in channelizing efforts on the gigantic scale and bringing help to folks who need that right NOW.  Help will be needed on many levels and good Samaritans who are volunteering help will be needing emotional strength as well. I had the opportunity of joining one such mission back in 1991, when big earthquake in the hilly area of  Northern India killed close to 700 people. While volunteering the rescue operation I learned few lessons at that time -

  • Keep your journalistic instincts in check.  Not everything is a story, there are real human issues involved. Close your camera and the laptop, lift that boulder  or the rock and you can still save few lives.
  • Don't be an onlooker. This is a generic Indian malaise, where anything bad happening in a social context invites thousands of onlookers. If you are not helping solve the problem then don't stand there.
  • Keep your agenda in check. I saw sickening acts in the name of religion.  Desperate people will do anything to get shelter and food, don't exploit that.
  • Politicians and celebrities  stay away from the scene during the early days. I saw temporary helipads made so that some big gun can land at the right scene.  Resources can be better deployed to move around critical services - food, shelter, emotional  and medical assistance.
  • Let critical resources take priority in moving around - don't jam telephones, don't clog airports, train stations and other transit points.  Critical service providers will be using these resources during these times.

At the personal level its frustrating to know your own limitations. People need help right now and I can only sit and write about it.  On the bright side,  there are positive signs that the world is fast becoming a better  place to live-in. We can  clearly see that PEOPLE CARE ABOUT PEOPLE.

Bloggers are showing the way by consolidating information and disseminating at  a never seen before pace.  We need similar innovation in fund collection as well. Why can't  government agencies accept paypal and credit card payments ?


December 28, 2004 | Permalink


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