Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Pakistan-India Earthquake : Important Note
IMPORTANT : ALL POTENTIAL DONORS ARE REQUESTED TO PLEASE READ THIS NOTE
Most NGOs have not yet been able to access the affected areas.
Of the few who have, most are not accepting materials. They prefer money donations because :
- Organizing the collection, sorting, fumigation, loading and dispatch of the materials is very difficult for them as it needs full-time workers. It is also time consuming and delays the relief work. For instance, the journey from Mumbai to the affected areas by road is 6 days! Hence they need to airlift the materials, which again is very costly and difficult to organize.
- They find it logistically much easier and more practical to use the money to buy the materials directly in and near the affected areas. Plus they can collect everyone's money and buy in bulk, which gives them a bulk discount, which you and I cannot avail individually.
- They mostly need new blankets, clothes etc. Not used ones. So they prefer not to accept our second hand materials and instead prefer to use our donations to buy new materials themselves.
- What we donate may be very different from what is actually needed on the ground. For instance, most of the victims are Pathans and Punjabis who would wear a specific kind of attire – so all the t-shirts, frocks and saris sent there will end up being wasted. Thus, because of local & cultural factors, most non-cash donations end up being unused.
- Cash donations enable the NGOs to buy exactly what is really needed, e.g. winterized tents, specifically required medicines.
- Local sourcing (i.e. buying material from the affected areas) also gives a boost to the local economy.
How can you help?
- The best way to help is by personally volunteering to work with a reliable NGO or aid agency, and working either onsite or offsite.
- If (1) is not possible, clearly the next best option is to donate funds. Read the note on Perspective above to understand why.
- If (2) is also not possible and you are intent on donating materials (clothes, blankets, footwear, medicines etc.), please try and buy new ones instead of old / used ones. Ask your NGO what kind of clothes you should buy - e.g. salwar kameez and pathani suits would be more useful than t-shirts, jeans, frocks and saris.
- If (3) is also not possible and you wish to donate old / used material, please confirm with your NGO if they will accept it if it is washed & ironed.