Help the Victims of the Tsunami

Help the Victims of the Tsunami-Be Generous, but Be Cautious!

Summary of eRumor:

Various emails asking for support for victims of the tsunami waves in South Asia.  

The Truth:

The devastating tsunamis in South Asia have prompted an unprecedented outpouring of support from people around the world who want to help those who have been affected by them. has had a lot of experience with humanitarian relief efforts and we have some recommendations that will help ensure that the support you give will go to the people who need it.

1.  If you get an email requesting donations for tsunami victims, don’t respond directly to the email or any links in the email, even if it seems to be from a trusted organization.
The reason is that you may get an email from crooks who merely want to capture your personal information including your credit card.

The safest thing to do is to go directly to the website of the organization or call them by phone.
If you don’t know the web address, use Google or some other search engine to find it.

2.  Donate only to trusted organizations who have a reputation for doing the kind of work that you believe in and, preferably, already work in the areas affected by the tsunamis.
This is a biggie.
A disaster of this proportion inspires us all to want to help.
One of the difficulties, however, is that well-meaning people and organizations start grass-roots efforts that either don’t help or, in some cases, inadvertently end up being a hindrance.
That’s why it’s best in the long-run to simply donate to organizations that are already there, that do this on a regular basis, that have personnel at the scene, that have the best channels for receiving and distributing the aid, and that know exactly what the needs are.
Even as I write this, there are campaigns in various cities to collect food, clothing, diapers, blankets, and other supplies, but the chances for those goods actually getting to the people who need them are poor.
It is heartbreaking to be on the scene of a disaster and know that there are airplanes that cannot land because nobody was expecting them, goods being stockpiled at an airport or a dock because there is no arrangement for being able to distribute them, and tons of supplies that are either not helpful to the relief effort or, if they are, will have to be sorted and there is not enough personnel or time to do that.
Another sad reality of disaster relief efforts is that not all government officials in all countries are honest and unless supplies are coming into the area through trusted sources, there is the danger for much of it to end up in the hands of unscrupulous people or end up on the black market.
One of the truths about human suffering is that many of the areas of the world  where there is the greatest need are areas where there is the least concern on the part of the government for the people being served.
In some countries, the danger is not from the government, but from insurgents and competing political groups that may have control over a particular portion of the nation.

The bottom line is that we all need to help but we also need to make sure that our help will get to the people who need it.