If you’ve so much as logged on to the Internet in the past few days, you’ve almost certainly heard about the earthquake that rocked Nepal on Saturday. The initial 7.9 quake and some 35 aftershocks have already killed over 4,000 (a figure that’s guaranteed to keep rising) and injured and displaced many, many more, with an unknown number of people still missing. Suffice it to say, the humanitarian toll of the earthquake is tremendous, and it came at a time when the international system is already strained by ongoing crises in Gaza, Iraq, South Sudan, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere.
And with any disaster (particularly one in a sexy voluntourism- and backpacker-friendly country like Nepal!) comes an onslaught of good intentions. The world needs more people who care, who are empathetic and compassionate, who are willing to put their money where their mouth is. But it doesn’t need more rogue college students, church groups or other White Saviours getting in the way of urgent humanitarian response.
To the seasoned aid critic (or enthusiastic blog reader), this may sound like a broken record, but crisis after crisis shows it’s one that needs to keep playing.
Do not go volunteer in a crisis. Do not send stuff (pillowcase dresses, ski jackets, stuffed animals, old medical equipment, notebooks, yoga mats…) to a disaster zone. DO donate money! Choose an established professional organisation, one that works in disaster response and has experience in Nepal – the likes of CARE, Mercy Corps, the Red Cross or MSF.
Not convinced? Check out what some of your favourite tweeps have to say about it.
Here’s hoping we’ll see less of the voluntourism and SWEDOW that contributed to making the Haiti earthquake response so problematic, and more well-researched donations to effective organisations. Featured image shows Durbar Square in Kathmandu, Nepal, the day of the earthquake. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.
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