The world seems to be awash with devastating disasters over the past decade. We had the 2004 earthquake in Indian Ocean that triggered a large-scale tsunami; more recently this year, we had the Bonin Island earthquake in Japan, drought in South Africa, pollution across much of South-East Asia. Man-made disasters include the Brazilian mine disaster and of course the widely broadcasted attacks in Paris, allegedly carried out by ISIS terrorists.
Closer to home in recent times, we have the landslide in Kelantan and spate of floods in Penang and now Klang Valley, too.Â Most of us wish we can help. Many of us send prayers to the victims. If you want to do more than just stand by and watch, though, here’s what you can do:
Donate to Disaster Relief Charities
Monetary aid is the easiest and most flexible form of donation you can make, but other essentials such as food, clothes, and sanitary pads can be donated too if you’re wary of giving cold, hard cash and free reign to the charity you’ve chosen. Just don’t try to send your package on your own because the disaster-stricken location may not even have the means to accept it by mail! However, some charities may not accept such donations as they may be difficult to sort and preserve. Money is much more flexible and useful to them. In some cases, you’ll be able to give your money a designated purpose, such as building emergency shelters, rather than have it go towards a general charity fund.
Regardless of its form, be sure to choose a legitimate charity that preferably has experience in providing disaster relief. The Red Cross is but one such example; you can check Charity Watch for a list of credible NGOs you can feel safe donating to.
Choose Charities with a Local Presence
Not all disaster relief charities are made the same. Some, like the Red Cross, may be international organisations, but their aid may not come fast enough if they’re not based in the affected area in the first place. Whenever you can, opt for charities that can get the ground-work done as soon as possible.
Interested in getting your hands dirty? Necessities aren’t all the victims need. They also need physical help to rebuild their homes and distribute the donated items to them, among others, so your presence would be most welcome. Just don’t take too many selfies while you’re at it – you’re there to help, not to glorify yourself. It’s very off-putting for the victims.
Opportunities to volunteer closer to home are also available when disaster strikes a neighbouring state. The Terengganu floods, for example, drew volunteers from across Malaysia.
Consider Funding Disaster Responses Instead
The immediate needs of disaster victims are shelter, food and medical aid, but you shouldn’t forget about awareness and preventative measures that could have been taken prevent or at least lessen the impact of the disaster. Prevention is better than cure, after all. What better way is there to help disaster victims than removing the chances of them becoming victims in the first place?
Victims need to be alive to receive the food and shelter you donate. Much of the life-saving occurs way before donations reach them, so donating to such causes is a worthy alternative.
As with everything else, each type of disaster relief effort has its pros and cons. Make sure your donations can reach the disaster victims so that your goodwill won’t be in vain!