Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Tsunami anniversary

In late September 2005 I spent several days in Phuket, Thailand (see "Shark Point" posting on this blog) nearly one year after the December 26, 2004 tsunami which devastated several areas in the Asia-Pacific region (http://www.ess.washington.edu/tsunami/Sumatra.htm) . By some estimates nearly 500,000 people died and/or are still unaccounted for to this date. Overall I thought Phuket looked fantastic with no obvious signs of the tsunami devastation. Granted Thailand was not ravaged to the degree that Aceh was devastated but clearly this region of Thailand was recovering very well but they need tourism spending to return to pre-tsunami levels. While I do recommend you vacation in the region to not only relax and educate yourself but let me also recommend that you consider taking another step by inviting a foreign exchange student to live with your family or sending one of your own students for a university semester/year abroad.

Unfortunately some disaster relief organizations such as the American Red Cross have internal problems which no doubt impact their ability to deliver results as evidenced by the tension between their board of directors and its former president (http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/story?id=1402984. The other example of relief organizations with major challenges is the tension between the founder of Habitat For Humanity and their board of directors (http://www.habitat.org) which is personally sad for me since I have volunteered on several home building projects in Minnesota and the U.K. Both the Red Cross and Habitat supply the basic human needs for recovery -- food, clothing, and shelter -- but I question their effectiveness today.

Perhaps it is just the natural evolution of large, complex organizations even in the non-profit world whereby they take on the characteristics of the incompetent government entities I want the non-profit community to counter and replace so I am on a personal search for local efforts to support and/or newer organizations that have not yet become victims of this institutional evolution such as -- Room to Read, http://www.roomtoread.org, which works in the Asia Pacific region building library facilities which are necessary pieces of infrastructure needed to help the region recover economically.

Think globally act skeptically,


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