Sri Lanka + 7 more

South Asia: Quarter million dollars raised for East-West Center Tsunami Relief Fund

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  • Pipeline Cafe Benefit Concert: Sunday, Jan. 9, 4-11 p.m., featuring 15 top Hawaii bands and performers. All donations will be contributed to the East-West Center Tsunami Relief Fund

  • Latin Dance Night Fund-raiser: Saturday, Jan. 8, 6-10 p.m. $5 cover, Atherton YMCA, 1810 University Avenue. All proceeds donated to the East-West Center Tsunami Relief Fund. For information: Tango Hawai'i at 393-2168.
HONOLULU (Jan. 7) - The East-West Center Tsunami Relief Fund has collected close to a quarter of a million dollars from the Hawaii community, the Center's president, Charles E. Morrison, announced today at a news conference.

Approximately $235,000 will be distributed directly to relief organizations on the ground that are working directly with tsunami victims in South and Southeast Asia, Morrison said. About half of the money has already been targeted and the Center will be carefully considering next week where funds that have been collected in recent days will go.

"We are touched by the extraordinary generosity of the people of Hawaii in responding to this disaster," Morrison said. "Never in our lifetimes has a natural disaster had such widespread impact over an entire region. And never has the world as a whole responded so generously to those in need.

"However, we must remember that the relief and rebuilding efforts will go on for months and years long after the television images have left our screens."

Morrison said the East-West Center is developing a program for the mid- and longer-term to help the rebuilding effort, develop warning systems, and helping establish more disaster-resilient communities.

Also attending the news conference to thank the community were Don Horner, president and CEO of First Hawaiian Bank, which helped collect funds at all its branches; Allen Clark, executive director of Pacific Disaster Center on Maui, which is managed by the East-West Center; and Jose Soares Turquel De Jesus, an East-West Center student from East Timor who is acting president of the East-West Center Participants Association. East-West Center students, many of them from tsunami-hit countries, have worked hard in the fund-raising effort.

"First Hawaiian is pleased to be working with the East West Center to make it convenient for Hawaii's people to respond to this mammoth disaster," said Horner. "Hundreds of people came to our branches to donate for the relief fund. It's yet another example of the generous heart of Hawaii's ohana."

Money was collected statewide, coming from thousands of individuals, including children and schools, and those who attended a fund-raising performance at the East-West Center last Sunday. The organizations that will receive funds were chosen after consultation with East-West Center alumni and with U.S. embassies and consulates in the tsunami-affected countries. Relief organizations that will receive funding so far are:

- $30,000 to WALHI, the Indonesian Forum for the Environment, which has approximately 200 volunteers on the ground in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, providing emergency medial supplies, sanitation, food and water. www.eng.walhi.or.id

- $30,000 to Sarvodaya, a Sri Lankan relief organization that has pledged to take in and provide for children age 11 and under who have been orphaned in the disaster. The organization will also care for all women and girls below age 19. www.sarvodaya.org

- $30,000 to Uplift International, which is working with Project HOPE to provide 14 tons of medicine and medical supplies to victims in North Sumatra, Indonesia. www.upliftinternational.org

- $25,000 in matching funds to be met by East-West Center alumni chapters in the affected countries. Of that, $5,000 has already been matched by the Malaysia alumni chapter. That money will be distributed to Mercy Malaysia, a medial relief organization that is working in Aceh and Sri Lanka. www.mercy.org.my

- $5,000 to be distributed by East-West Center alumni in Chennai, India, to buy fishing nets for fishing villages on Indian islands hit by the tsunami.

Regarding longer-term efforts, the East-West Center education staff is communicating with higher education, primary and secondary institutions on projects to help restore education programs in Thailand, Sri Lanka and Indonesia. Terry Bigalke, director of the Center's Education Program, will be visiting Aceh and Sri Lanka later this month. East-West Center student Muhamad Ali from Jakarta will also be volunteering in Aceh and traveling with Bigalke.

The Pacific Disaster Center in Maui, which the East-West Center manages, currently has three staff on the ground and is sending a fourth person to help relief efforts. The PDC has launched an online information system providing satellite imagery and other information crucial to the relief and rebuilding efforts in the affected countries.

Monetary contributions can still be dropped off at any First Hawaiian Bank branch or dropped off or mailed to the East-West Center, 1601 East-West Road, Honolulu HI 96848-1601. Online contributions can also be made at www.eastwestcenter.org

East-West Center, Pacific Disaster Center Activities Related to the Southeast and South Asian Tsunami Disaster

The Indian Ocean tsunami is not history's deadliest natural disaster, but no previous disaster affected so many people in so many countries. With a 45-year history of working with the affected countries in Southeast and South Asia, the East-West Center (EWC) has been deeply impacted by the disaster. The East-West Center-managed Pacific Disaster Center (PDC) on Maui has an explicit mandate to assist emergency managers in the Indian Ocean as well as Pacific Ocean region. This brief memo outlines the contributions being made by the EWC and the PDC to the current relief effort and lays out a sustained program for research, education and dialogue to assist in the rebuilding phase and to increase the preparedness of the region for future disasters.

1. Contributions to the near-term response and recovery program

- The East-West Center Tsunami Relief Fund was established on Dec. 27 and has raised about $235,000 as of Jan. 6. We will continue fund-raising and disperse these funds to organizations working with disaster victims on the ground. An East-West Center team will be leaving mid-month for Indonesia and Sri Lanka to monitor relief work supported by the EWC and to identify changing needs.

- The Pacific Disaster Center has three personnel in the region providing data related services for the relief efforts.

- The Pacific Disaster Center established the Indian Ocean Tsunami Geospatial Information Service to support emergency managers responding to the disaster. It is working with the ITSU and the International Tsunami Information Center (ITIC) to explore expansion of this service as part of the PDC Asia-Pacific Natural Hazards Information Network.

2. Contributions to rebuilding

- The East-West Center team will assess rebuilding needs and carefully select areas where the Center has the capacity and expertise base to play a significant helpful role. We anticipate assisting in rebuilding educational institutions in the affected regions.

- The Pacific Disaster Center will use geospatial data to assess damage and develop plans for rebuilding in a more disaster-resilient manner.

- The East-West Center and Pacific Disaster Center are exploring a continuing monitoring role to help measure the progress of rebuilding efforts and identify any weaknesses to be addressed.

3. Contributions to Improving Disaster Warning and Preparedness

- The East-West Center and the Pacific Disaster Center stand prepared to organize and support an international workshop on an Indian Ocean tsunami warning system.

- The East-West Center and the Pacific Disaster Center are initiating an integrated program focused on building disaster resilient coastal communities in the Asia-Pacific region. This program would draw on their combined multidisciplinary expertise and technical capacities and emphasize a multi-hazard (tsunamis, cyclones, flooding, storm surges) to risk management in coastal communities. Elements of this program are: geospatial imagery, technology and modeling; training; and workshop and dialogue activities on risk reduction and management.

- As part of the coastal communities effort, the EWC and PDC will engage in education and technical training to create institutions and individuals with knowledge of hazards and warning systems. We are also exploring a role of training for local media on disaster risks.

- The East-West Center is exploring collaborative research activities on international disaster preparedness. The research would look at the weaknesses of the international disaster regime and needed improvements.

For more information, contact:

Susan Kreifels
Phone: (808) 944-7176
email: kreifels@EastWestCenter.org