Sri Lanka + 6 more

South Asia: East-West Center Tsunami Relief Fund reaches $340,000

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HONOLULU (Jan. 27) - The East-West Center Tsunami Relief Fund has raised nearly $340,000 statewide since it was launched a month ago today, with most of the funds earmarked for immediate relief efforts and the rest for longer-term recovery and rebuilding.

Terry Bigalke, director of the East-West Center's Education Program, traveled to Aceh, Indonesia, and is currently visiting Sri Lanka to meet with relief agencies that are receiving money from the Center's tsunami fund. In Aceh, he was accompanied by Muhamad Ali, an East-West Center graduate student from Jakarta, Indonesia.

The two have also met with local officials from educational institutions and media organizations, some of them East-West Center alumni, to identify possible longer-term recovery projects. The Center paid for their trips.

"The reports we have from our team as well as our alumni is that people in Aceh and Sri Lanka are enormously grateful for all the help and attention they received," said Charles E. Morrison, president of the East-West Center.

"The people there also want to move ahead," Morrison said. "The priority now is shifting from short-term emergency relief toward longer-term rebuilding. They will continue to need a lot of financial help, training, and encouragement, and we want to continue to be proactive in helping them."

The East-West Center Tsunami Relief Fund now totals $338,200. Donations vary from loose change collected from students at Pahoa Middle and High School on the Big Island to checks made out for thousands of dollars from private citizens in Hawaii and throughout the region. The East-West Center, other non-profit organizations and Hawaii businesses have also contributed in-kind services to make sure 100 percent of the tsunami relief fund is distributed to relief agencies working on the ground in the tsunami-affected areas.

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell sent a letter to the East-West Center days after the fund was launched to thank the citizens of Hawaii for their generosity and quick reaction.

The Center has identified six relief agencies and several villages that will receive a total of $165,000 in funding that will be used for helping children orphaned by the tsunami, and for medicine, sanitation, food and water, medical and shelter supplies, fishing nets for village fishermen, and other urgent needs. Another $25,000 has been earmarked as matching funds for money that is raised by East-West Center alumni chapters in the affected areas; $6,500 of that has already been matched by alumni in Sri Lanka and Malaysia.

The full list of agencies and projects receiving funding so far:

WALHI ($30,000) - Addressing environmental and humanitarian issues. Has approximately 200 volunteers in Aceh providing emergency medical supplies, sanitation, food and water. www.eng.walhi.or.id

Sarvodaya ($30,000) - Providing for children aged 11 and below who have been orphaned by the disaster. The organization is also caring for women and girls below the age of 19. www.sarvodaya.org

Uplift International ($30,000) - Providing medicine and medical supplies to victims in North Sumatra, Indonesia. www.upliftinternational.org

Operation U.S.A ($50,000) - Providing medical and shelter supplies to tsunami victims in Indonesia ($25,000) as well as food, water, medical supplies and water purification equipment in Sri Lanka ($25,000). www.opusa.org

Vivekanand Medical Research Society ($10,000) - Aiding the poorest and most vulnerable people affected by the tsunami in India. http://www.vivekanand.org/

Rajaprajanugroh Foundation ($10,000) - Working primarily with children orphaned by the tsunami in Thailand. www.dlfeschool.in.th/home/mainframe.htm

Chennai, India ($5,000) - Buying fishing nets for island villages hit by the tsunami.

EWC Alumni ($25,000 in matching funds) - East-West Center alumni organizations are raising matching funds to be distributed locally throughout the stricken area:

Mercy Malaysia ($5,000) - Providing humanitarian services in crisis and non-crisis situations. Mercy Malaysia is the first organization to receive funds through the alumni network. www.mercy.org.my

Samaritan Home Relief ($1,500) - Rebuilding the Samaritan Children's Home, an orphanage washed away by the tsunami on Sri Lanka's eastern peninsula. Funds to be distributed through the alumni organization. www.samaritanchildrenshome.org

For more information, contact Susan Kreifels at 944-7176 or kreifels@eastwestcenter.org

***Monetary donations can be dropped off at or mailed to the East-West Center, 1601 East-West Road, Honolulu, HI 96848-1601; made online at www.eastwestcenter.org or dropped off at any First Hawaiian Bank. For more information, call 944-7111.