Archive for Thursday, January 6, 2005

Eudora men plan local tsunami aid

January 6, 2005

Before Thousands of tsunami relief organizations and volunteers across the globe sprung into action after the 9.0 magnitude earthquake hit off the coast of Indonesia's Sumatra island Dec. 26. But for Eudora residents Joe Reitz and Paul Thevarajoo, offering assistance to tsunami victims is something they feel can be done a little more personally and a lot closer to home.

Reitz and Thevarajoo are currently in the process of assembling relief efforts for residents in the Eudora area to help tsunami victims.

Thevarajoo, who is originally from Kuala Lumpar, Malaysia -- where the death toll is nearing 100 -- said the objective behind their efforts is to make donations and aid more personal and easier to track.

"We want to find a town in South Asia that Eudora can adopt and focus their efforts on," Thevarajoo said. "It's a more intimate way of helping."

Both Thevarajoo and Reitz agreed there were several worthy charities and volunteer groups organizing relief funds, but they wanted a more direct route.

"Most people want to help or send money," Reitz said. "But a lot of people don't know how to go about it or where their money goes after it's left their hands."

Reitz and Thevarajoo envisioned a way of helping that would let individuals have more personal contact with victims and allow for donors to closely "follow" their contributions.

They have decided their route should go directly through Thevarajoo's family in Malaysia.

Thevarajoo said they will contact what would be the mayor of a city in South Asia that was in need and request the names of some families and the losses they had experienced.

"After we have collected the money and donations I will wire the money to my family in Malaysia who will then go to that family who is most affected and personally hand them the money," Thevarajoo said.

Thevarajoo and Reitz plan on documenting the whole process so those who donate will be able to see the physical changes their donations helped to make.

and after photos as well as progress reports will help document where the money is going and whom it is helping.

Reitz also said their efforts would be more long term, rather then temporary.

"(When there is a disaster) people usually help immediately and then go away," Reitz said. "We want to stick with it, as a way to help people to identify with the tragedy."

Reitz said that because of the bureaucracy of most relief organizations help is not quick to get to those in need. He also added that individuals who donate supplies or money might have a difficult time tracking their donations to see where they were used and just who they helped out.

"We don't want to get in the way of other efforts," Reitz said. "I've always seen Eudora as a very giving community. This is a problem of a different nature but I think that we're capable of helping."

Individuals interested in donating time, money or other items to the Eudora tsunami relief effort may call The Eudora News at 542-2747.

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