A Tsunami of Relief:

Margaret Powers

“In the wake of an event as tragic as the recent tsunami in Southeast Asia, it is quite easy, while living on the far side of the globe, to get caught in the trend of impersonal and faceless aid. In essence, we often give charity yet quickly forget the far-reaching ramifications that these cataclysmic events hold for local cultures and families. It is our obligation as citizens of the world to be aware of the horrific and life-altering consequences of this event,” the Mission Statement of the Colgate Cares: Tsunami Relief Project reads. On Wednesday, the Tsunami Relief Banquet will be held in the Hall of Presidents from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. to raise money for those deeply affected by the tragic tsunami and promote awareness of the long-term rebuilding efforts that Southeast Asia will face in the coming years. The banquet, sponsored by the SGA, South Asian Cultural Club, and the Center for Outreach, Volunteerism and Education, will host two speakers: Robert Ho Professor in Asian Studies and Professor of Music Emeritus William Skelton, who is involved with relief in India, and Professor Alex Theveranjan of Syracuse University’s Martin J. Whitman School of Management. He is a native of Sri Lanka who has created his own charity, Cities for Sri Lanka, and will be sharing the details of his visit to Sri Lanka in January. The speakers hope to demonstrate the tsunami’s effects on different components of life and its complex rebuilding process.All proceeds from the Tsunami Relief Banquet, estimated to be around $6,000, will go to Save the Children, a non-profit organization devoted to aiding children around the world. After the tsunami in south Asia, Save the Children developed a five-year “reunite, recover, rebuild” plan to help survivors. Under this plan, the organization aims to supply food, water, medical supplies, and shelter to survivors with immediate need in the first six months. For the next two years, as medium-term relief and reconstruction, Save the Children will help children reunite with their family or community and return to school. For five years, as long-term recovery, Save the Children will provide job skills training and loans to help survivors reenter the work force, help rebuild schools, homes, and health centers, and provide emotional support for survivors. These efforts have been implemented so far in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, and the Maldives. In addition, Save the Children uses 90% of its funds for program services and direct aid, a very efficient amount that earned the organization the highest four-star rating by Charity Navigator, an independent rating agency.Senior Kaitlin LaCasse and Jeremy Neigher, the main organizers of the charity banquet, stressed the importance of this event. “It’s an easy way for people to make a big impact,” Neigher said. “Too easily we are caught up in our daily routine and forget what is happening throughout the world. We need to be reminded.” Neigher hopes that the banquet will encourage students to continue to contribute to tsunami relief and become more involved in other relief efforts. Tickets cost $25/person, $40/couple and are currently on sale at Frank dining hall and the Coop.