Aid to Burma – some ideas for donations
As some of you may know, although I have never personally volunteered in Burma or on the border, I have a lot of connections, both personal and professional, to the country. This cyclone disaster has started off as a horrible natural disaster, and has very quickly spun out into a horrific human disaster as well. Nearly a week after the cyclone, aid is really just starting to come into many parts of the country, with many other areas still completely stranded. (an excellent source of information on all things Burma is www.burmanet.org – they synthesize information from a huge number of sources and update daily)
However, the ability of organizations to gain access to the country is slowly gaining traction, and the most effective thing a westerner can really do at this point is donate money to an organization.
This, of course, begs the question, as always – WHICH organization will make good use of my funds? Where will it actually help people and not be wasted?
I have a few recommendations from friends of mine that used to or currently live in the area, and are intimately familiar with local and international organizations that do good work, and don’t waste money. Below is a few of the recommendations (as a side note, one of them is a Christian organization. There is a really excellent support network among churches in Burma. Whatever your opinions of the establishment of the Christian church, and possible proselytizing connected with aid, they do effective work, and unfortunately, there is not a well set up temple/monastery system that does this kind of work on the same effective level):
- International Rescue Committee (https://secure.ga3.org/03/donatenow_myanmar): Is a leading organization for international disaster relief. I am always particularly impressed by their ability to cut administration costs and ensure that your donations are going to the meet the needs of the people. They have a special page set up to collect donations for Burma.
- Tearfund (https://www.tearfund.org): A UK based christian development organization, Tearfund’s strength is using local churches to fight root causes of poverty. They have been working in Burma for several years, including in some of the districts hardest hit by the cyclone. The organizaiton particularly impresses me in how they combine the need to address spiritual and practical needs simultaneously. They also have a page set up specifically for the situation in Burma.
- US Campaign for Burma (http://uscampaignforburma.org/) has a history of supporting the Burmese democracy movement and has strong contacts inside the country. They have set up a check off box on their standard donation page to collect support for the cyclone victims. Though they have less experience with disaster relief, they will have the flexibility and connections to provide support directly to people in great need.
- CDCE Nargis Disaster Relief Fund
CDCE supports the bottom-up process of civil society development in Myanmar by offering capacity building trainings to community workers and local NGO professionals from across the country. Over the past two years, the program has developed a growing network of committed development workers and has established strong ties with local community organizations and NGOs. It is this community that CDCE will now closely work with in order to bring aid to the victims of Cyclone Nargis.
At the moment, with many international aid organizations immobilized by the wait for visas, supporting the grassroots groups that are already on the ground is critical. CDCE will deliver funds (and possibly goods such as Oral Rehydration Salts and water purifying tablets) directly to the hands of local community organizations that are already providing relief in the affected areas. These organizations have been working in the affected regions for many years and know very well the current needs of these communities. With great attention given to transparency and accountability, CDCE will ensure that donations to the Fund will go to the most effective and responsible efforts.
CDCE is also connecting with its alumni in the country, over eighty people, to organize a coordinated response to the disaster. Alumni are already sharing information with others not in the affected regions, collecting donations and volunteering their time to help. CDCE has made plans to send program staff into Myanmar to oversee and expand this initiative.
How can you support the CDCE: Nargis Relief Fund?
At the present moment, CDCE is accepting only cash donations.
- Transfer money to our special disaster relief bank account.
- Bank: Krung Thai Bank
- Branch: Chiang Mai University
- Account Name: CDCE: Nargis Disaster Relief Fund
- Account Number: 456-0045-445
- Swift Code: KRTHTHBK
- Branch Phone Number: 053-223191
- Send a check made out to “CDCE: Nargis Disaster Relief Fund” to:
- Community Development & Civic Empowerment Program
- Faculty of Social Sciences, Chiang Mai University
- Chiang Mai, 50200, Thailand
- Bring cash or check in person to our office at Chiang Mai University. We are located in the International Building of the Faculty of Social Sciences. Our office room number is and we are on the second floor, at the end of the hallway, past the RCSD study room and Social Development Graduate Common Room. We are open from 9 am to 5 pm excluding holidays.
If you would like more information about CDCE and its relief efforts please contact us by email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or by phone at 053 – 226697 during the day and 083- 2062299 on evenings and weekends.