Got Change?

Relief Efforts and the Lack Thereof in the Wake of Natural Disasters

by carmen ye

Sit tight. I am going to throw some numbers at you.

464.

141.

376.

What do they have in common? Each number represents how many people died, respectively, in Typhoon Ondoy in the Philippines, a tsunami in Samoa, and Typhoon Morakot in Taiwan, all of which occurred within the past 3 months. The death toll of these three natural disasters is now at 981, not to mention the casualties and massive damages to properties, leaving thousands more homeless and poverty-stricken. [1][2][3]

We hear about a hurricane here, a tornado there, every other week. Heck, the number of natural disasters around the world has gone up 400% in the last two decades. Translation: we now experience four times more natural disasters than we did twenty years ago, largely owing to – you guessed it – global warming. As big corporations, big countries, and big egos mess with the very air we breathe, changing weather patterns have led to more frequent and more unpredictable disasters that affect those least responsible for causing them. Outrageous, I know.

I threw those numbers at you as my do-gooder deed of the day, hoping to inspire you to jump out of your seat and exclaim, “Omg! How can I help?” I’m glad you asked.

Following the examples of national relief agencies such as Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity, local organizations dedicated to fighting for Asian American issues have brought together community and compassion to raise awareness and funds. The Bay Area chapter of National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) recently held a fundraiser in Oakland, spearheaded by Linda Yang, Julia Rhee, and Jenny Ton. When I asked Yang what motivated her to organize this, she responded, “The question is more ‘Why NOT do it?’ rather than ‘Why do it?’”

With such a take-charge attitude, it comes as no surprise that NAPAWF raised over $3,200 to contribute to Typhoon Ondoy relief efforts. In describing the fundraiser itself, Yang said, “We specifically found beneficiaries who… were under the mainstream radar, who were likely not receiving equitable aid. It didn’t matter your profession or destination in life, for a few hours we all held the collective goal of supporting our brothers and sisters in Samoa and the Pacific Islands.”

Campus organizations have also been involved in doing their part to aid the survivors of recent disasters, adding that unique Berkeley activism. Theatre Rice, a performing arts group dedicated to fighting against the misrepresentation of Asian Americans in the media, donates about half of their funds from each show to charity. For their fall mid-semester 2009 showcase, Theatre Rice chose a charity in San Francisco that supported relief for Typhoon Ondoy.

Assistant producer Kathleen Mendoza emphasized that Theatre Rice “has two sides: the artistic and the social/cultural.” She added that although the relief effort Typhoon Ondoy may seem like a departure from their mission statement, “it really is not… We are showing solidarity among the Asian community and aiding in preserving a culture that is threatened by natural disaster.” Their next show’s proceeds will “follow in similar steps: the relief for those in Samoa and Tonga.”

But there are communities in the U.S. with family in the areas hit hardest by these disasters, in countries they also call home. The Samoan community in Southern California was devastated when they heard of the earthquake and tsunami that caught American Samoa unawares. Although they have been trying to reach their family, phone lines have been disconnected due to heavy flooding. What are they doing, when they can’t know if their loved ones are ok? This community organized around this particular issue by starting up food and clothes drives at local churches as soon as they heard what had happened in Samoa.

There. That was my do-good, feel-good moment, to educate you about catastrophes that may seem very far removed from home, but are actually close to our hearts. Now, what will your good deed of the day be? In a consumer society where we complain about tuition but go shopping every other weekend, it does not seem so hard to give up a little of our spending money. I wrote this to not only educate readers and bring some awareness to this issue but also in the hopes that this article really will inspire you to mobilize around these disasters that have stripped its victims of everything they own.

Small steps you can take to raise funds include penny wars (remember freshmen year in the dorms?), start a “people who donate are sexy” collection jar, or repost this article in popular social networks. Really, I know you spend an inordinate amount of time on Facebook or Twitter every day. Feeling creative? Write your own blog about this! The best way to learn is to teach, so by educating others, we’ll spread our networks a little wider, and gather a little more change to aid those floating on rafts in the debris of their homes.

“Typhoon Ondoy Strikes Philippines.” Plan UK: Typhoon Ondoy strikes Phililppines. 2009. Web. 5 Nov 2009. <http://www.plan-uk.org/newsroom/philippinestyphoon/>

“Samoan Tsunami Kills 141 Before Indonesian Quake Leaves at Least 75 Dead.” Samoan Tsunami Kills 141 Before Indonesian Quake Leaves at Least 75 Dead. 30 Sep 2009. Web. 5 Nov 2009. <http://www.hedgehogs.net/pg/newsfeeds/keny/item/941630/samoan-tsunami-kills-141-before-indonesian-quake-leaves-at-least-75-dead>. Taiwan

“Taiwan: 376 dead, 254 missing .” News – World: Taiwan: 376 dead, 254 missing. 25 Aug 2009. Web. 05 Nov 2009. <http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?art_id=nw20090825091846834C515935#more>.

Relief Efforts and the Lack Thereof in the Wake of Natural Disasters

by carmen ye

Sit tight. I am going to throw some numbers at you.

464.

141.

376.

What do they have in common? Each number represents how many people died, respectively, in Typhoon Ondoy in the Philippines, a tsunami in Samoa, and Typhoon Morakot in Taiwan, all of which occurred within the past 3 months. The death toll of these three natural disasters is now at 981, not to mention the casualties and massive damages to properties, leaving thousands more homeless and poverty-stricken. [1][2][3]

We hear about a hurricane here, a tornado there, every other week. Heck, the number of natural disasters around the world has gone up 400% in the last two decades. Translation: we now experience four times more natural disasters than we did twenty years ago, largely owing to – you guessed it – global warming. As big corporations, big countries, and big egos mess with the very air we breathe, changing weather patterns have led to more frequent and more unpredictable disasters that affect those least responsible for causing them. Outrageous, I know.

I threw those numbers at you as my do-gooder deed of the day, hoping to inspire you to jump out of your seat and exclaim, “Omg! How can I help?” I’m glad you asked.

Following the examples of national relief agencies such as Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity, local organizations dedicated to fighting for Asian American issues have brought together community and compassion to raise awareness and funds. The Bay Area chapter of National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) recently held a fundraiser in Oakland, spearheaded by Linda Yang, Julia Rhee, and Jenny Ton. When I asked Yang what motivated her to organize this, she responded, “The question is more ‘Why NOT do it?’ rather than ‘Why do it?’”

With such a take-charge attitude, it comes as no surprise that NAPAWF raised over $3,200 to contribute to Typhoon Ondoy relief efforts. In describing the fundraiser itself, Yang said, “We specifically found beneficiaries who… were under the mainstream radar, who were likely not receiving equitable aid. It didn’t matter your profession or destination in life, for a few hours we all held the collective goal of supporting our brothers and sisters in Samoa and the Pacific Islands.”

Campus organizations have also been involved in doing their part to aid the survivors of recent disasters, adding that unique Berkeley activism. Theatre Rice, a performing arts group dedicated to fighting against the misrepresentation of Asian Americans in the media, donates about half of their funds from each show to charity. For their fall mid-semester 2009 showcase, Theatre Rice chose a charity in San Francisco that supported relief for Typhoon Ondoy.

Assistant producer Kathleen Mendoza emphasized that Theatre Rice “has two sides: the artistic and the social/cultural.” She added that although the relief effort Typhoon Ondoy may seem like a departure from their mission statement, “it really is not… We are showing solidarity among the Asian community and aiding in preserving a culture that is threatened by natural disaster.” Their next show’s proceeds will “follow in similar steps: the relief for those in Samoa and Tonga.”

But there are communities in the U.S. with family in the areas hit hardest by these disasters, in countries they also call home. The Samoan community in Southern California was devastated when they heard of the earthquake and tsunami that caught American Samoa unawares. Although they have been trying to reach their family, phone lines have been disconnected due to heavy flooding. What are they doing, when they can’t know if their loved ones are ok? This community organized around this particular issue by starting up food and clothes drives at local churches as soon as they heard what had happened in Samoa.

There. That was my do-good, feel-good moment, to educate you about catastrophes that may seem very far removed from home, but are actually close to our hearts. Now, what will your good deed of the day be? In a consumer society where we complain about tuition but go shopping every other weekend, it does not seem so hard to give up a little of our spending money. I wrote this to not only educate readers and bring some awareness to this issue but also in the hopes that this article really will inspire you to mobilize around these disasters that have stripped its victims of everything they own.

Small steps you can take to raise funds include penny wars (remember freshmen year in the dorms?), start a “people who donate are sexy” collection jar, or repost this article in popular social networks. Really, I know you spend an inordinate amount of time on Facebook or Twitter every day. Feeling creative? Write your own blog about this! The best way to learn is to teach, so by educating others, we’ll spread our networks a little wider, and gather a little more change to aid those floating on rafts in the debris of their homes.

  • “Typhoon Ondoy Strikes Philippines.” Plan UK: Typhoon Ondoy strikes Phililppines. 2009. Web. 5 Nov 2009. <http://www.plan-uk.org/newsroom/philippinestyphoon/>
  • “Samoan Tsunami Kills 141 Before Indonesian Quake Leaves at Least 75 Dead.” Samoan Tsunami Kills 141 Before Indonesian Quake Leaves at Least 75 Dead. 30 Sep 2009. Web. 5 Nov 2009. <http://www.hedgehogs.net/pg/newsfeeds/keny/item/941630/samoan-tsunami-kills-141-before-indonesian-quake-leaves-at-least-75-dead>.
  • Taiwan “Taiwan: 376 dead, 254 missing.” News – World: Taiwan: 376 dead, 254 missing. 25 Aug 2009. Web. 05 Nov 2009. <http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?art_id=nw20090825091846834C515935#more>.

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