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Saturday, January 22, 2005

First Blog

My first Blog entry ever....oh, yippeee (picture me filled with unbridled joy jumping for on a cushion).......

It was about 5.15 PM and I was on my way home from work, after popping in for a couple of hours to fix a critical bug before UAT, when I heard on the radio that early reports were coming of a Tsunami hitting Sri Lanka due to an earthquake off the coast of Sumatra with a death toll of at least 350. Given the distance from ground zero I was amazed that a tsunami had reached all the way to SL and I just assumed that the Eastern part of the country had been hit. I made a bad joke to my sis-in-law about Galle being flooded and it turned out later that one of her uncles was killed in town while shopping (I'm still living that down). As the night went on the toll became 650, 1500, 3500 by the time we went to bed. I woke up to 6000 ......and onwards.

Having spent most of my life in Oz it was amazing how helpless I felt. The raw, unreasoned feelings were of wanting to go and provide physical and monetary assistance to the affected. I thought about volunteering too. I would still like to during my holidays in May/June if I can find a way to contribute. Anyway, #### We rang and volunteered with the local offices of a large NGO. They were operating a second call-center to cater for the emergency and finally called us to work on the 1st of Jan. Middle Australia are generally charitable and I wasn't sure what to expect. The following are some of the stories about the donations that I accepted during those 5 hours.
  • An old couple who needed help operating the phone got a telephone operator to put them through to donate $40.
  • A regular contributor rang and donated $5000.
  • Another lady rang and wanted to make sure that all the aid wasn't going to Indonesia, due to "political" reasons. When I told her about the global multi-nation relief effort she was happy to contribute $100.
  • Another older lady rang and wanted to know if there were bank transaction fees applied credit card donations. I said "yes" because in Oz the accepting business pays the fees, not the card holder. She decided to go around to her local bank branch and place a direct deposit.
  • A man rang and wanted more information about the NGO. I read out what I had in front of me and pointed him to the website. He decided to contribute $400.
  • A couple of more $1000 and $500 donations.
  • Another lady rang; she had her whole extended family over for a New Year lunch and put all their contributions of card.
  • A lot of transactions of $20, $50, and $100.

To the left of me was a lady who worked on development projects and had been in Asian countries a couple of times in the past year. To the right of me was a young student from the country, she had come into the city for 31'st celebrations and decided to help out.

  • A young girl, from a country town I haven't heard of rang and wanted to contribute $10. I asked her for the details and she said she wanted to use a savings account bank card. Now that was a genuinely touching moment. I couldn't help but pointed her to a bank branch and she was going to ask her mother to take her.
  • Another man contributes about $300 (I forget the exact). He was spreading his contribution around many organizations.
  • A father rang and wanted some advice for his 11yr olds who wanted to start up a collection through the local community and friends. I gave him to the general/administration office contact details to make arrangements on a working day.
  • A nurse rang wanting to volunteer. I pointed him to AVI.
  • Another man offering $2000 and another with $4000.

I was amazed by the generosity, I guess as a nation we are wealthy enough and very compassionate. Could it also be something to do with the Expanding Circle?.


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