Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Mission to Burma

Normally, when a crisis on the level of the Myanmar cyclone hits, I click over and give money to the relief effort.

But this time, it's hard to figure out who to give to. A military junta rules Myanmar (Burma). They decide who gets in and who doesn't. Many NGOs limit their activities in Myanmar because it's hard to get the job done under oppressive, corrupt conditions.

And this military government suddenly finds itself asking the outside world for help. 22,500 people are dead. 40,000 more are unaccounted for. Up to a million people may have lost their homes.

But which agencies will be allowed in? I want to give to an agency that has the best chance of getting permission to get across the border, and of course I want the money to go to helping people, not to some kind of fund that the Myanmar government ends up controlling.

I think I'm going with Doctors Without Borders, because they are already in and on the ground. But here's a good list of the charities that are assisting in the relief effort, so maybe I'll go with one of them.

Anyone else have a suggestion?


Marie Javins said...

Amanda found a few other charity vetting spots, here and here.

Anonymous said...

One question to ask is whether they guarantee the money earmarked for Burma relief will go there or whether it might be used for other things. Doctors Without Borders has a good reputation in that respect; the Red Cross does not.

I am going to ask my friend, Antonio (http://www.speakingadventure.com) what he thinks, as he has been working with Shan refugees from Burma in Thailand for the past several months

Marie Javins said...

Just heard on NPR that aid is already having trouble getting in.

Marie Javins said...

In the end, I gave to CARE. It looked like at least three NGOs were already in Burma and didn't need permission or visas. These are CARE, WorldVision, and Medicins Sans Frontiers (Doctors Without Borders).

Another travel writer recommended this agency.

Anonymous said...

Antonio recommended this agency to me:

World Aid (checks payable to World Aid)
2442 NW Market Street, PMB# 434
Seattle, WA 98107
Designate: Cyclone relief
Our tax id is 94-3116991

Contact World Aid directly at: worldaidinc@gmail.com

He also said that there is a particular concern that the Rohingya people in the Arakan region, who are a Muslim minority in Burma, would not get the help they need.

By the way, I won't ever give money to CARE because they violated one of my fundamental rules of fundraising. They send me at least 2 solicitations a week. After I wrote to them and told them not to send me solicitations more than quarterly (something most charities will respect).

Marie Javins said...

Uh-oh...I hate junk mail. Waste of resources as well as money!

Marie Javins said...

The military junta just impounded 38 tons of food from the World Food Program. What a bunch of @ssholes.

I hope the NGOs that are already there are able to help in some way, though obviously they can't get supplies in.