The December 26 tsunami that devastated the lives of so many in Southeast Asia and East Africa has affected countless people throughout the world, as evidenced by the outpouring of relief donations.
According to the United Nations, governments and global organizations have pledged more than $3 billion in tsunami-disaster relief, and private donations from the U.S. and other countries have reached unprecedented levels (see "Stars Pitch In To Aid Tsunami Victims; Live Aid-Style Concert A Possibility").
Those donations are monumental and sorely needed. But some people want to give something of themselves. So as the recovery process begins, here are some ways that you can lend a helping hand.
Get $1,000 to Help Tsunami Victims
MTV and Youth Venture are awarding Tsunami Response Grants of up to $1,000 each to teams of two or more who have developed creative projects to help people affected by the tsunami.
Bid In An Auction
MTV Networks has organized an auction with UNICEF. Bid on cool stuff from celebrities and MTV, with all proceeds going to the relief effort.
Start A Fund-Raiser
Kids in Albany, New York, held a tsunami-benefit skate-a-thon at a local roller rink. Students at the University of Toronto collected clothes for tsunami victims. A salsa club in Oakland, California, is planning a benefit dance party. There's no limit to what you can do: Here are some links to help you get started.
YouthNOISE, a nonprofit organization dedicated to "sparking youth action and voice" has a handy how-to guide to starting a fund-raiser.
Craigslist is a community bulletin board where you can find tsunami fund-raisers taking place near you.
Help The Children
In Indonesia alone, almost 38,000 children have been orphaned by the tsunami disaster. And millions more around Asia are at high risk of disease, abuse or exploitation. The best way to help is to sponsor a child through a reputable organization.
World Vision is a charitable organization that allows you to sponsor individual children in tsunami-ravaged regions.
Child Relief and Youth America focuses on rebuilding communities with high child populations.
Volunteer organizations have been flooded with calls from young adults looking to board the first flight to Southeast Asia — but it's not that simple. Reputable organizations put their volunteers through months of language and cultural-sensitivity training before sending them to foreign countries. According to the U.N., the recovery process in the region will take years, not weeks, so help will be needed for a long time to come.
The Peace Corps currently has volunteers in 72 countries, including much of Asia.
Volunteers for Prosperity is the foreign-aid branch of USA Freedom Corps.
The Center for International Disaster Information is a message board frequently searched by volunteer organizations looking for help. If you have previous disaster-relief experience, you can post your "résumé" here.
Why was the tsunami death toll so high? Why were some of the areas with the highest number of deaths also some of the poorest? Education is the first step toward prevention, and here are some places to get it.
Oxfam is an international organization that studies global poverty and the policies that contribute to it.
The United Nations has information on world population and overcrowding in some of the world's poorest countries.
All of the above organizations are accepting donations through their Web sites. If you'd like to contribute to some other worthy ones, here are some links.
The Brother's Brother Foundation is a Pittsburgh-based international-health organization founded in 1958.
CARE is an international organization dedicated to fighting global poverty.
Doctors Without Borders delivers emergency aid to victims of armed conflict, epidemics and natural disasters.
Mercy Corps, an international relief and development agency, is helping families in tsunami-stricken Southern Asia lay the foundation for a better future through innovative programs and community partnerships. Mercy Corps programs are reaching more than 250,000 people in the affected regions.
Quarters From Kids is a nationwide, grass-roots effort to engage young Americans, and adults who work with them, in a collective response to the tsunami disaster in Asia.
The Red Cross has a goal to collect $400 million for tsunami relief, and donations recently passed the $150 million mark.
Save the Children is a leading nonprofit humanitarian relief and development organization working in more than 40 countries throughout the developing world and the United States. Its mission is to create lasting, positive change in the lives of children in need.
UNICEF is an international organization that was founded in 1946 to feed children orphaned by World War II. It now operates in 157 countries around the globe.
The United Nations World Food Programme is the world's largest humanitarian agency. In 2003, the WFP fed 104 million people in 81 countries.