Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Help Make an Impact!

I usually have my morning breakfast at my desk digesting world news. Today, I could not swallow a morsel, the news headline read ... "More than 100,000 suspected dead in Myanmar Cyclone" - I put down my coffee and checked if there was a typo, there wasn't!  With a sinking heart I read through the news, until it led me to the section where common citizens can help make an impact. 

In less than five minutes, my little portion of aid towards the relief efforts was done. And I thought, Wow! if its that simple, why not have the HR mail this to everyone in my company. My recollection of the morning chit chat confirmed my fears ... very few people were actually aware that such massive destruction had occurred somewhere in the world. In less than half an hour, the HR responded - "Management has decided not to forward this message on the company network!" 

I was utterly horrified! I wasn't asking them to give money or empty their pockets, I was simply asking them to help me spread awareness about the incident, so that if anyone did want to contribute, he/she could. Almost every other day - there is some junk email in our inboxes  - that almost everyone ignores. But, when it came to having a genuine cause, the corporate management decided - Oh! there are better ways to distract our employees! Really! was five minutes of company time going to make that much of a difference to their profits???? I raged to talk to the person responsible for this decision ..... Alas! I was helpless, being an international student and a bound employee, there was nothing I could do!

 And so I decided to use the tools at my disposal, I decided to write! 
What is it that makes people not care? What is it that people say to themselves - that justifies such apathy??? While as individuals we might disagree on several things, surely, all of us can agree that the one defining virtue that makes us HUMAN,  is that unspoken sacred commandment that says "Every Human life values the same, and if a life needs saving, you do all that you can to see that it lives".   What is it that makes us treat two lives different?? Who really gave us that permission?? Politics aside, Nationality aside, people are DYING?? In how many different ways does this, need to be said before we really understand it?? 

At the time of second world war, when Americans did not want to get involved, FDR said .... "If your neighbor's house is on fire, you do not haggle over the price of your water hose!" Does this not apply to you?? No matter what your nationality??  Do we not owe it to our education - and our upbringing to care more?? 

Often times, it is much easier than it appears! With the internet as our tool, let us use the power of communication and the massive audience at our reach.  Talk to a friend, help spread the word,  make them search their conscience, and while you are at it - search your own.... 


Will you help? Or will you ignore? As you go to the warmth of your bed tonight, try to remember the retching cries of helpless children to whom the night wasn't so kind ..... 

After all some day - you will have to defend your choice, and say to yourself "I chose to do this ..... and these are my reasons ..... 

 Be it a facebook group, or a relief effort you helped create, make your contribution - make a difference and believe in yourself!  As for this blog, it goes out in memory of all lives that were forever, lost!  May your souls rekindle the fire in our conscience, may it help us .... be human again!

 - Sanket

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Anonymous said...

I objectively object to the fact that all lives are valued equally. Actually they should be but they are not... otherwise, when the terrorists want to have their say, why do they only kidnap the politicians? We all know we are all born equal... but thats that... I see how this post comes from the bottom of your heart though... good job!!! toast to humanity:)

Sanket Korgaonkar said...

Yup! So long as we are clear in what we should be - and what we are - and own up to ourselves - I am fine. As for the terrorists - well - not only do they fail every single time - but in fact they help strengthen the opposition every single time.

When Mumbai trains were attacked - I made it a point that I was using the trains the very next day. If the terrorists want to stop me from going out - they are going to have to try harder!

Zimbly zweet said...

good write up ...
agree that awareness is the first step towards achieving any goal ...

but u never mentioned in what way u helped provide relief ... maybe adding that would also help ...


Anonymous said...

I appreciate your writing here and help to Myanmar Junta, but these are some facts you should know about it and could be one of the reason your management doesnt want to involve themselves in that.
Also there are policies in the company about when it comes to relief funds. Companies are not allowed have those funds requests officially sent out to the employees. Usually management takes money out of their own money to send out. Its not that people dont want to help but do you know much of your money and help will really reach the victims in the real life?

Death toll reached almost 100,000.
We all are reading about how these survivors are waiting in the line for some help from the government and even if help is trying to reach them its Burmese government is so reluctant to take any help from them. As BBC reporter said today, government doesnt want any credit to go outside and doesnt want to take any help form other people. It is different that what happend during Tsunami , it was an open ground where anyone could go and help.
US army doesnt have approval from Burmese government to land there yet.
Even if indian, srilankan flights are landing there with the food and life supplies, Burmese army is not letting any of the foreign army to help them to distribute that help to the people.

With all this in picture, you never know if your help will really reach genuine people.
They also mentioned today in the news that, other neighboring countries don't want to send help until they know it is reaching the people who are suffering.

Just my thought.

Sanket Korgaonkar said...

Thank you Deepti for that feedback. Let me address your concerns one by one:

1) My outrage with the company was not that they were reluctant to send money.
I could have understood that - No - what I was asking them to do - was to spread the word - and leave it to individual discretion if people wanted to donate on their own or not. And they did not let that happen.

2) As to where does your money go when you donate, the International Red Cross Federation has it on its website, that 93.5% of your funds go to the direct aid to which you donate, 6.5% of aid is used for adminisrtative purposes. Ideally we would want all 100% of donations to go to Myanmar - but this is just a reality we have to accept.

3) As for the Burmese govt. not allowing aid to reach people. The situation is improving and more flights have landed in Burma with aid. We can only hope that with the U.S. and China pressuring Burma to open up - the relief efforts will catch up to the scale of the disaster. At this point there isnt enough fuel to burn the corpses in Myanmar.

4) Finally, I would just like to add that. While all of your concerns are valid, there will always remain uncertainity about where your money went - and who did it reach, things are seldom clean cut and unambiguous when it comes to fund raising. However, you have to realize that these organizations are non-profit organizations, often times they have to work under very hostile situations (Rwanda) and adapt their operations to suit the needs and bureaucracy of the place. The least we can do is complete our part in helping them, they have enough going against them, without us adding to the pile. In the end when it comes to it, you got to trust people, else very few systems in the world would work. Please understand, I am not being naive, but willfully condonable in this regard. But this, is my personal choice and I can not speak for anyone elses behalf. Like I say in the post, at the end, if you can justify your decision, thats all that matters. I could not - not help - despite the ambiguity - but thats me.

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