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Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Gone are Our Selfish Pride and Arrogance

As nature proved once again that we, humans, are just small parts of the much bigger universe. Ruins and mud-covered leftovers are the remains of what used to be a beautiful seaside of Meulaboh.

Local as well as regional mass media has widely covered this decade’s worst natural disaster for the past three days. It is reported that in Aceh alone, the number of victims is skyrocketing to more than 24,000, while hundreds are still missing, thousands lost their homes and belongings.

The number of deaths in Indonesia stood at about 52,000. Authorities there said that did not include a full count from Sumatra's west coast, and UNICEF (news - web sites) estimated the toll for that country alone could be 80,000.
Sri Lanka reported 22,800 dead, India more than 7,300 and Thailand 1,800 — though that country's prime minister said he feared the toll would go to 6,800. A total of more than 300 were killed in Malaysia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, the Maldives, Somalia, Tanzania and Kenya.

It was a sunny Sunday morning. I was, as usual, woke up late and found myself too attached to my bed. An absolutely ordinary day. Never had I imagined that at the very time, real-life scenes from The Day After Tomorrow and Deep Impact would have taken place in northwest Indonesia.

My cousin has been found ... he's OK, but has a deep trauma of earthquake and tsunami. Even water. His girlfriend is lost, he just found her dead mother. Man ... they were going to be married this February. This is shocking.
About my mom's uncle ... he's lost. There's a message that one of his sons is safe because he ran to some hill ... but the rest of his family is still lost.
"Meilathena" in Medan, Indonesia.

I have never seen dead bodies scattered all over a wrecked town. And I have no relatives or close friends there in Nangroe Aceh Darussalam. I therefore don’t really have a handle on what misery those people might go through.

But I almost burst into tears knowing that countless people from all over the nation start lending their helping hands. Aids for the refugees are flowing from private companies, government officials, individual citizens, through many charity centers. Even the President himself instructed that each and everyone capable should provide all-out assistance to restore Aceh.

By last night, $250m (£130m) had been pledged for the relief effort from the world's 30 richest countries, though major banks and the UN are now suggesting that it will cost between $10bn and $15bn to help the region recover from the disaster. Britain has pledged £15m. Of other major donors, Spain has pledged $60m, Australia $10m and the US $35m. But while the US is the world's biggest aid donor in absolute terms it gives less as a percentage of its national in come than any other modern industrialised nation - 0.14%.
In contrast to the response of governments, there has been an exceptional scale of giving by the public. In Scandinavia, where more than 2,700 residents are still missing, charities reported "overwhelming" donations, with several million pounds raised in 24 hours from businesses and individuals.

Indonesia is not the only country suffered from 9-richter-scale earthquake and tsunami. Damages also hit India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Thailand, and other East African countries. The UN claimed that funds raised for this tragedy would amount to the largest fund for humanitarian affairs.

We will need very substantive pledges," Mr. Egeland said of the flash appeal that the UN will launch in the coming days, which may well be the largest ever made. "I think this is unprecedented because very many countries are involved."

Prayers and deepest condolences to everyone in grief. May this demanding misfortune be a precious lesson for all of us to learn from.


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