$100k from her handbag – for cyclone victims

11 05 2008

With such natural disasters like cyclone disaster which struck Myanmar and killed an estimated 100,000 people … and also riots in Beirut… lets us appreciate that our loved ones are safe and sound… and appreciate to be in a safe and sound country…Lets do our part to help the less fortunate pple in ways that we can..

$100k from her handbag – for cyclone victims

Chen Meiyue & Samantha Eng
Sun, May 11, 2008
The Straits Times

A tsunami or a cyclone can strike suddenly. Compassion can take a while to build up.This seems to be the case in Singapore as donations for the Cyclone Nargis disaster which struck Myanmar on May 3 appear to be gathering force slowly.At 6pm yesterday, $906,000 had been raised here for the disaster which killed an estimated 100,000 people.

In contrast, the Singapore Red Cross alone received $1 million in donations within two days of the 2004 tsunami disaster.


Amid this apparent slowness, one Singaporean woman’s spontaneous generosity stood out.

She turned up at Red Cross House in Penang Lane just before noon yesterday and donated $100,000 in cash.

The woman, who appeared to be in her 40s, asked how she could help the Myanmar victims. Then, from her handbag, she handed over a wad of $1,000 notes, totalling $50,000, which was tied together with a rubber band.

Even as Red Cross volunteers were thanking her, she took out another wad and said: ‘Here’s another $50,000.’

She told volunteers she wished to remain anonymous and did not need a receipt.

She told The Sunday Times in Mandarin: ‘I felt so much pity for the victims of the cyclone. Whenever a disaster happens, I will do my part and make a donation.’

She had her 10-year-old son with her to ‘show him how donations are made’.

Her contribution equalled the $100,000 cheque which Creative Technology boss Sim Wong Hoo wrote to the Red Cross last week. The Red Cross has now collected about $450,000.

The May 3 disaster is the worst to hit South-east Asia since the 2004 tsunami which killed over 220,000 people.

Apart from the death toll, more than one million Myanmar people have been left homeless and disease may spread if relief operations are not quickly mounted.

Asked about the slow public response, Singapore Red Cross spokesman Carol Teo noted that the tsunami was seen to be of a greater magnitude as more countries were affected.

‘Also, during the tsunami, foreign aid was able to go in quickly. Now, there’s a little bit of difficulty,’ she said.

‘People might hold back contributions because they’re not sure if the aid is going directly to the survivors.’

Indeed, the situation in Singapore is not unique. In the first week of the 2004 tsunami, pledges of international aid amounted to US$2billion.

In the same period for the Myanmar cyclone, it has amounted to just US$50 million (S$68 million).

Ms Teo said the Singapore Red Cross will ensure that relief aid ‘will get to the right people’ because it will send aid only if liaison officers from Singapore are allowed in to work with the Myanmar Red Cross.

A Sunday Times check with 100 Singaporeans found most saying that the impact of the Myanmar cyclone has not been as overwhelming as the tsunami. Fourteen had not even heard about the cyclone, let alone the fund-raising efforts.

Operations manager Janeky Jayaprakas, 45, said: ‘If they make it convenient, like during the tsunami when there were collection booths, I’m sure more Singaporeans would make donations.’

Still, the response is acquiring a momentum. Besides the Red Cross, the Salvation Army has raised $60,000 while Mercy Relief has received $153,000. World Vision has received $70,000. Almost $83,000 was collected from donation boxes placed at mosques during last Friday’s prayers.

The 100,000-strong Myanmar community here is also collecting cash and clothes. The Overseas Burmese Patriots has raised $90,000.

Individual Singaporeans, like coffee-seller Helen Choy, 48, have been doing their part. She took the $400 she collected from her colleagues to the Red Cross yesterday.

But some, like administrative executive Linda Ng, 33, are still holding back because of Myanmar’s reluctance to let in foreign aid workers. She said: ‘If they let them in, I’ll donate.’

Meanwhile, international relief assistance continued to arrive in Myanmar yesterday even as aid experts remained doubtful about the junta’s ability to distribute the aid fast enough to those in need.

The junta ignored widespread calls and went ahead with a referendum yesterday on a new Constitution that critics say is aimed at giving the generals even broader powers.


More report: Race against the clock to help victims

The perfect storm

AsiaOne Source




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