This past week when I heard news on the BBC of the earthquake in Chengdu in the Sichuan province I thought, "Isn't that where the NPR people were going to report on the massive changes in China?" Before traveling there, they described the wonderful cuisine of the region, the burgeoning population, and the economic upheaval, and I was quite interested to hear their reports from the area.
I'm sure these NPR reporters were not expecting to experience an earthquake firsthand. However, they have been working diligently to get the story of the thousands of people impacted by the quake out to the rest of the world. It's heart wrenching to hear a parent's sobs when they talk about their missing children, describe collapsed homes, and tell of trapped family members. I only hope that their reporting helps inspire people to give, or to travel to the area and help.
The Chinese government's response to the situation contrasts sharply with the response of Myanmar to the cyclones. Once upon a time in a not too recent past, China would have prevented reporters from traveling to the epicenter of the disaster.
However, this time they are being much more open, perhaps having realized that being open will get them more aid. In addition, like I mentioned before, the upcoming Olympics are likely playing a role in this. The country is under increased scrutiny and don't want additional criticism for their humanitarian mistakes.
If you are interested in volunteering to help the earthquake victims in China, consider the following:
- Red Cross - Provides disaster relief
- Mercy Corps - Works within "disasters, conflicts, chronic poverty and instability to unleash the potential of people who can win against nearly impossible odds"
- Feed the Children - Provides food to children and families around the world
- Peace Corps - Places volunteers in two year positions to serve the USA in the cause of peace by living and working in developing countries
- ORBIS International - Works to build local capacity and develop long-term, sustainable solutions to the tragedy of unnecessary blindness
- Empowerment and Rights Institute - Works to protect the human rights of disadvantaged groups including farmers, laborers (esp. female and child labor), migrant workers, complainants and petitioners, and victims of forced-relocation
- Dream Corps International - Volunteers work to better the learning environment for students in disadvantaged communities in rural and urban China
- Global Volunteer Network in China - Educates children in rural China
- Organize a small fundraising event. With a few friends, contact a local bar or restaurant. Convince the owners to give you deals on food and or beverages, charge a $10 cover fee, and promote the heck out of it to your friends and family, reminding them of the people impacted by the event. Donate the funds to a larger organization.
- If your employer has a dress code, organize a "$5 for China so you can wear jeans to work" day. Donate the funds.
- Follow Fred's example - collect donations to do something ridiculous, like cutting your hair into a mullet, fasting for a week, or eating 20 chili peppers.
Don't forget to vote daily for the Volunteer Boston Blog as the "Best Hobby Blog"!
Related Posts: Earthquake in China Volunteer Opportunities; Earthquake in China; Global Volunteering; How you can help - with a mullet; Tornadoes, Cyclones, and Disaster Relief - Oh My!; Myanmar cyclones and what you can do to help; Food Crisis - Get on the Seoul Train
First photo courtesy of a Chinese message board: http://bbs.cdqss.com/viewthread.php?tid=344374
Second photo courtesy of the NPR blog on the reporters' Chengdu journey