Thursday, October 13, 2005

International Blanket Day 2005

Two million homeless people face a harsh winter – The Guardian

Government acknowledges dire need for blankets in quake affected areas -

Cold kills hundreds in South Asia last winter -

Dear friends

It is that time of the year when 90% of the population of extensive parts of South Asia – from the malnourished beggar, to the debt-ridden small-time farmer; from the poor girl child, to the wafer-thin lady who works as a manual laborer; from the residents of slums and shanties, to those whose beds adorn the pavements of frozen roads – start feeling the first pangs of biting cold.

It is mid October, the unwelcome month which heralds the arrival of yet another harsh unforgiving winter in North India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and neighboring areas.

And this year will be worse. Immeasurably so. For this year, it is not just the above mentioned who will suffer – it will also be people who “normally” would never have experienced such cold, but who, in the Winter of 2005, will. These are the victims of the tragic Pakistan-India earthquake which has left millions
homeless and without shelter from the fury of Mother Nature.

To quote from

“For thousands of survivors of Pakistan's worst-ever natural disaster, the misery continues.

“Most spent a shivering fourth night in the open, too afraid to use what is left of their damaged houses amid the ruins of a catastrophe that has left at least 23,000 dead in Pakistan and some 2.5 million homeless.

"The lucky ones managed to find themselves blankets and some even tents to protect against the cold. Others made do with pieces of cardboard and slept between mounds of rubble on the pavements.

"All emerged from the freezing night to find that snow had fallen on the peaks surrounding the once-picturesque Kashmiri city.

" 'That was the fourth night we slept in the open,' said Khurshid Bibi, pointing to her family of 15 camped on the roadside outside their collapsed house in Gulshan street. 'We were very, very cold. We need tents and blankets.'

"During Tuesday's rain they had sheltered in the only room left standing of their home, but they had been afraid it would collapse.

" 'It's hard living on the street. My mother is very ill.' "

Need one say more?

In light of this devastating tragedy, the MAD Club launches International Blanket Day 2005 (IBD2005). But with a difference!

The objective of IBD2005 is : "To help the survivors of the Pakistan-India earthquake survive the harsh winter of 2005-06. And thereby to help them rebuild their lives, one small step at a time".

The modus operandi of IBD2005 is going to be different from IBD2001 – IBD2004. For the first time in its 5-year existence, IBD2005 is going to steer away from its core theme of “individual donations” and is going to focus on the modus operandi of “mini collection drives” - albeit individually organized. Why? Because, when dealing with devastation of this magnitude, individuals just do not have the time, money, energy and resources to individually make a noticeable difference to the large number of survivors. But collectively, working together under focused direction in a cohesive and systematic manner, they can move mountains.

It’s basic mathematics : In times of such international crises, 1 = 1, but 1 + 1 = 11!

So this time, the onus is on each individual - on each one of us - not just to donate on our own, but to organize "mini collection drives" and thereby get others to donate too!

The Process for IBD2005

  1. Each person (henceforth referred to as "contributor") would buy a blanket. In case the contributor cannot afford a new blanket, he or she is welcome to donate an old blanket.
  2. Other items which can be collected, and which would be very useful, are:
    a. Warm clothes (sweaters, cardigans, scarves, socks, shawls ... )
    b. Any other clothes (shirts, trousers, kurtas, lungis ... )
    c. Footwear (slippers, shoes ... )
    d. Medicines (sample list given here)
    e. School or tuition fees, study books or materials (note pads, pens, pencils, erasers, sharpeners, rulers, geometry boxes, pencil boxes, school bags ... )
    f. Money
  3. Once the contributor has collected his/her share of the above, he/she will then organize "mini collection drives" to gather as much of the above material as possible. Some target groups among which these drives can be organized are:
    a. Family
    b. Friends
    c. Neighbourhoods / building societies
    d. Schools
    e. Colleges
    f. Workplaces
    g. Other groups - Internet acquaintances, NGOs you may know, friendly govt organizations, libraries, clubs etc.
  4. Please collect as much of the above as you can buy / spare, both through your individual efforts as well as through your "mini collection drives".
  5. We will shortly provide city-wise details of who to contact for handing over the material you have collected.

At the end of the day, there should be just that extra bit of warmth and happiness in this increasingly cold and frosty world of ours.

How can you help?

The dream is very lofty. The resources are very scarce.

You can help immeasurably simply by participating.

You can help even more if your answer to any of the following questions is a "Yes":

  1. Do you have family, friends and acquaintances with who you can share this message? Do you know people who are willing and able to create a warmer and happier world?
  2. Can you get together with your friends on any Sunday or half holiday, and organize a "mini collection drive" on your own? It will not take more than a few hours, and trust me, the kick you will experience is not worth missing!
  3. Is your academic institute or workplace willing to undertake a "mini collection drive" for earthquake relief?
  4. Do you have ideas or recommendations or contacts for spreading news of this request to the maximum number of people? Any and all suggestions are most welcome.
  5. And finally, is anyone interested in volunteering to join Team International Blanket Day 2005 (TIBD2005)? Based on the level of your participation, we will assign TIBD Coordinators for your school / college / organization / locality / city / country.
    (List of last year's coordinators given here).

If you have answered a "Yes" to any of the above, and if you are willing to participate, please email blanketday@yahoo.com. Please mention your name and city / country of residence. All your inputs, feedback, suggestions, ideas, queries, clarifications and offers to help will be keenly appreciated. We promise to revert ASAP.

We also request that each of you who makes a donation / organizes a "mini collection drive" informs us of his / her contribution by sending an email to blanketday@yahoo.com. This will help us keep track of the impact of the movement.

So come. Join us in celebrating December 9th as International Blanket Day.

And let us Make A Difference. Together.

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