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  How to get help to those hurt by Hurricane Katrina  
 

 

By: Dr S Kalyanaraman
September 06, 2005
V
iews expressed here are author’s own and not of this website. Full disclaimer is at the bottom.

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Hurricane Katrina has been an extraordinary human disaster. It is the responsibility of every citizen of the world to respond to the resultant human tragedy with any form of help possible. Such a response is what sanaatana dharma (eternal dharma) is all about. Dharma is an ordering principle. Such activities are referred to as seva in the languages of India. Selfless-service is the purest form of yoga where every aatman seeks out the paramaatman through seva. This seeking out is yoga. Culture is an automatic pattern of good behavior. This is dharma in action. This is what Andre Gide said in French: l'acte gratuite, unmotivated action. This is what is seen in the actions of relief organizations described below.  I and all members of my family join all families of America, offering prayers for America, with tears in our eyes. May dharma protect America. It is heartening to note that the following organizations, IDRF, HSS, American Red Cross are engaging in this dharma in action. 

India Development and Relief Fund 

The IDRF operates on the simple principle that “Service to Humanity is Service to God”.  In 1999, IDRF was effective in helping us get assistance to the families of Indian soldiers who died in protecting India from global terrorism in the snowy heights of Kargil. In 2001, IDRF sent $25000 to the families of New York firefighters who died trying to save the victims in the World Trade Center terrorist attack. Known for quiet effectiveness, both in swift emergency response and long-term support for grassroots reconstruction projects that empower the local people, IDRF provided the means for Indian-Americans to deliver effective relief and rehabilitation following such mega-disasters as the Orissa Cyclone, the Gujarat earthquake, and t organization’s tsunami relief efforts from Dec.26, 2004 onwards, are seen at this page. Now they are collecting funds to help neighbors hit by the hurricane and flooding in Louisiana and Mississippi. From : http://www.idrf.org/ 

“Our volunteers in Baton Rouge, LA are working with American Red Cross and local voluntary organizations to assist in providing relief efforts. There is a need for long term rehabilitation and all your contributions will be directed to the grass roots organizations.”

Contacts: Suresh Deopura, Vijay Pallod, Raghu Verabelli, Babulal Gupta 

HSS Relief Activities

One of the organizations that IDRF uses in India to deliver reliable, effective support to the grassroots is Sewa International. Sewa can also be reached through the HSS. From their Press Release:  

The Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh has designated Amit Misra, amitmisra@sbcglobal.net as contact for relief activities.

All 90 chapters of HSS in the US are helping through collecting donations, canned foods, cookies, crackers, bottled water, juices, medical supplies and blankets. HSS requests all monetary contributions directed to Sewa International or American Red Cross. Dozens of volunteers from Houston, including children attending several Balagokulams, have already started the collection. The HSS office at Keshav Smrithi, 4018 Westhollow Pkwy, Houston, TX 77082 has been designated as the contact point for all relief efforts. 

HSS is working with authorities in Houston in meeting the immediate needs of the displaced people arriving from New Orleans. The government officials and American Red Cross have opened various shelters in Houston. HSS volunteers will serve in these local Red

Cross shelters in Houston and other area. Volunteers are also coordinating with other shelters and motels, which have become temporary homes for victims. Volunteers are also contacting

physicians, asking them to contribute their time and medical supplies and businesses to provide material help. 

Contact : Sharad Amin

American Red Cross: http://www.redcross.org/

“The American Red Cross, with support of the worldwide Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, is launching a Web site and hotline to help assist family members who are seeking news about loved ones living in the path of Hurricane Katrina.”

Various contact and volunteer participation mechanisms are given on the Red Cross website. One of the resources they operate is the

Family News Network of the International Committee of the Red Cross

http://www.familylinks.icrc.org/katrina 

Here are some suggestions from their site, valid for all disasters: Volunteers coming in contact with the survivors should especially help the survivors in this: 

“With widespread power and communications outages and roads under water, it’s important to go back to communication basics to ensure that your family and friends know you are safe:

·         Call an out of town contact to let them know you are safe.

·         Ask them to spread the word to your family and friends.

·         Make sure your contact lives far enough away that they are not affected by the same storm.

·         Rest assured that emergency responders are working as quickly as possible and are doing all that they can to help those affected.

·         Remember that storms mean power outages and downed phone lines. Please keep trying and be patient.

·    Phone lines are often overwhelmed after a disaster. Try sending an email if you can—sometimes email works when phones don’t.” 

“American Red Cross disaster assistance is free, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people. You can help the victims of thousands of disasters across the country each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, which enables the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, counseling and other assistance to those in need. Call 1-800-HELP NOW or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Donations are also being accepted at Coinstar machines at select grocery stores across America. To find the nearest Coinstar machine, visit www.coinstar.com. Contributions to the Disaster Relief Fund may be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P. O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting www.redcross.org.

Dr S Kalyanaraman

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