The day after Christmas, disaster struck in South Asia. But like so many catastrophes, the devastating earthquake and tsunami affected myriad more lives than happened to be at the seashore on that day. Family and friends who lost loved ones were left to mourn; people who had once visited that region of the world thought, "What if?"; those who live in the ravaged areas thought, "What now?"
Now that the initial shock has faded and the miraculously impossible stories of survival are painfully few, it is time to end this daily blog. But the inspiring stories of unlikely alliances, the power and generosity of the human spirit, and tireless work to relieve the suffering will go on. Newly aware of the fragility of human life and the earth we inhabit, who can say how much goodness the aftermath of this disaster may yet bring out in us?
Saying Thank You
In Indonesia, anti-government rebels are part of life, but in the wake of the tsunami, rebel leaders are joining the chorus of praise for international relief efforts. The rebels' message to foreign aid workers is "You are welcome, and we will not hurt you." A spokesman for the Free Aceh Movement, a separatist army, told a New York Times reporter, "I am very grateful and thank the Americans and the rest of the world that when they saw this disaster they worked directly to help." He said that rebels would not attack government troops as long as the relief effort was operating. (Note: Free registration is required to view this article.)
Refilling the Pot
Thursday, a $3-500 tsunami relief donation that had been collected at the John P. Holland Elementary School in Boston was stolen. By Friday mid-morning, though, families and area residents had responded with upwards of $3000 in pledges to the fund. One donation of $1000 came from a local insurance company. "It absolutely has restored my faith in humanity," said principal Michele O'Connell. "Yesterday, I was about low as you can go."
Teaching Themselves to Fish
Weary of waiting for over-worked government crews to come and help them repair and rebuild their fishing vessels, more than 70 men from a tsunami-wracked Indian fishing village have joined forces to do the work themselves. In what news agencies are calling a "rare show of community spirit," the men worked together to move and repair storm-tossed vessels.
Pushing the (Web) Buttons
Jovan Trajceski, a web designer, has developed a free set of buttons that he wants people to post on their websites and link to charitable organizations that donate to the tsunami relief effort. "I felt that I have to do more beyond the financial, clothing, or food donation," he writes, adding that he hopes that having clear places to click from all sorts of websites will result in more money to help those in need.
Life Starter Kits
The charitable organization Save a Family is looking beyond meeting the immediate needs of the thousands of lives devastated by the tsunami. The group is starting to distribute "Life Starter Kits" that include a thatched roof hut, cooking utensils, bedding, children's books, and other necessities.
Giving Something Back
Surfers yearn for enormous waves, but the events of the Asian tsunami have given California surfers pause. A group of them have launched a major fund-raising effort to contribute money to the shoreline areas of Thailand and Indonesia, where many of them have traveled and surfed in the past. Through the organization SurfAid International, the group has raised over $500,000.