(San Dimas, CA, USA) It is the 5th day after the devastating earthquake struck Haiti. A Tzu Chi volunteer in Haiti, Steve, who previously helped with Tzu Chi's 2009 relief efforts in Port-au-Prince and Cité Soleil, has been in contact with the Tzu Chi Emergency Coordination Center in San Dimas on a daily basis. Steve is representing Tzu Chi at NGO meetings in Haiti, discussing how the NGOs can collaborate to provide relief.
Steve lives an hour away from the US embassy in Port-au-Prince. His two cousins were killed by the earthquake, and his uncle is missing. According to Steve, UN is the only organization conducting aid distribution in the city center, and there are riots in the city center. When driving from his house to the city center, he could see that a majority of the buildings have collapsed, with bodies lying on the streets and some bodies thrown into a big hole on the ground. Many survivors were out on the streets because an aftershock was felt at approximately 2pm Pacific time on Saturday afternoon.
Tzu Chi Emergency Coordination Center is sending a team of volunteers from the US to assist with the operations in the Tzu Chi Emergency Communication Center in the Dominican Republic. The Emergency Communication Center has two focuses: 1) set up task forces in the Dominican Republic to compile news from Haiti, interact with the government officials, contact volunteers in Haiti, and integrate resources and manpower; 2) support Steve and other volunteers in Haiti, with the goal of recruiting more volunteers in Haiti and inspiring their hope and love to help one another.
Tzu Chi has extensive disaster relief experience, providing immediate, mid-term and long-term relief. Based on prior experiences, besides providing relief goods and medical aids, the most urgent task after the initial rescue efforts is to clean up the disaster areas to ensure a sanitary environment and prevent the spread of epidemics. After Typhoon Morakot and Typhoon Ketsana struck Asia in 2009, Tzu Chi volunteers initiated a relief work program to pay the survivors wages to help clean their own hometown. For example, the city of Marikina in the Philippines was severely flooded due to Typhoon Ketsana; Tzu Chi volunteers and 80,000 relief workers/survivors cleaned up the entire city in just 18 days, preventing the spread of epidemics. The relief work program not only provided financial assistance, it also provided hope, love and a sense of purpose to the survivors.
Tzu Chi's nationwide fundraising campaign has begun as of January 16. In Southern California alone, Tzu Chi volunteers have held street fundraisers in 23 locations. At the fundraising locations, people can see Tzu Chi volunteers with 90 degree bows and gentle smiles, doing all they can to raise money for the survivors in Haiti. Tzu Chi volunteers hope to accumulate the love from people around the world and deliver them directly to the suffering people in Haiti. Also in other parts of the world, the first phase of fundraising has begun in 15 countries. The 15 countries include Canada, United Kingdom, Denmark, Paraguay, Argentina, South Africa, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Australia, Indonesia and Jordan. Volunteers are needed for fundraisers around the world. For more information, please contact your local Tzu Chi office.
Please continue to send kind thoughts or pray for the people in Haiti, and invite your families and friends to do the same. Tzu Chi will help to deliver your love directly to the hands of the survivors in Haiti. Your donation of any amount will go a long way to help the suffering people in Haiti; every cent of donation goes directly to the survivors in Haiti. Together, let us help Haiti with love!
To make a donation, please visit www.us.tzuchi.org , or call 1-888-989-8244 , or send your check to 1100 S. Valley Center Ave., San Dimas, CA 91773. (Your donation is tax deductible in the USA!)
For more information, please visit www.us.tzuchi.org or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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