Wednesday, May 25, 2016
Another consideration in donating to refugees, is to have insight into what donations will help and what donations may even hinder efforts for relief.
Recently NPR addressed this issue. Juanita Rilling, director of the Center for International Disaster Information in Washington, D.C. gave some insight into what donations help and those that do not.
Hurricane Mitch Honduras was a disaster. More than 11,000 people died. More than a million and a half were left homeless. An airplane full of relief donations could not land because someone had left donated clothing on the runway. This clothing including, winter coats (for Honduras!), which was not what they needed. It even hurt efforts to get supplies they needed to the people there.
When the Indian Ocean tsunami occurred, more donated of used clothing appeared on a beach in Indonesia. There was no one to clean it up or take care of it and it began to rot. The clothing became toxic and was eventually burned, to take care of the problem.
Many people think donating bottles of water is helpful. But when talking about relief abroad this can be costly. Bottled water cases can cost hundred of thousands of water. But relief organizations with portable water purification units can produce the same amount, a 100,000 liters of water, for about $300."
A local tragedy, at Sandy Hook Elementary School, inspired many to send relief items. The number of Teddy Bears sent totaled about 67,000. School supplies, and thousands of boxes of toys, bicycles, sleds, clothes were also sent. Rilling speculates that these items where more for the comfort and relief of those that sent them, than the children there at Sandy Hook. There were a few teddy bears handed out to the children and the rest were sent away.
When Hurricane Sandy occurred in 2012, the relief groups stopped accepting clothes. They created a "wedding registry" of relief items that were really needed in the area.
There are some donations that can bring relief, there are others that can get in the way of people receiving relief. It is good to become educated with our efforts on donating to refugees.
Juanita Rilling said,
"And cash donations enable relief organizations to purchase supplies locally, which ensures that they're fresh and familiar to survivors, purchased in just the right quantities, and delivered quickly. And those local purchases support the local merchants, which strengthens the local economy for the long run."
Information from "When disaster relief brings anything but relief" Scott Simon of NPR