Mercury News - Oct. 14, 2005
Donors focus on quake relief:
South Asian, Muslim agencies favored
By Katherine Corcoran
With American generosity being tapped for a third unfathomable disaster in less than a year, traditional organizations such as the Red Cross are seeing a drop in donations, but Muslim and South Asian charities are seeing an outpouring of help.
The Red Cross of Santa Clara Valley couldn't provide exact numbers, but spokeswoman Cynthia Shaw said donations to help victims of the 7.6 earthquake in Kashmir are far behind the $500,000 collected locally in the first five days after Hurricane Katrina.
Only one person has called about holding a fundraiser for the Saturday earthquake, which is believed to have killed 25,000 people and displaced millions, compared with dozens of calls for Katrina fundraisers almost immediately after the Aug. 29 hurricane hit the U.S. Gulf Coast.
``Normally things pick up by this time, and they haven't,'' Shaw said. ``Donor fatigue is something we're very concerned about. We've even seen it with Katrina. Already people are getting Katrina'd out and getting on with their lives.''
But the news is much better for the local Hidaya Foundation and Southern California-based Islamic Relief, both of which are reporting a dramatic response.
``The whole community has been very supportive,'' said Nabil Sheikh, office manager at the Hidaya Foundation, a Santa Clara-based non-profit supporting educational and social welfare projects in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. ``People of all walks of life are there, giving their own clothing and their own blankets.''
Islamic Relief online donations were expected to top $1 million Thursday, said spokesman Aris Shaikh, compared with $1.5 million more than 2 1/2 weeks after the tsunami hit Southeast Asia last December.
``We're definitely above that pace,'' Shaikh said, adding that the group has also received about $2.6 million so far of in-kind donations of medical kits, tents, jackets and blankets. ``It's been a year of disasters, but the sensitivity toward victims of these crises really has increased in donors. No matter how many times we call on donors, they respond. It's really encouraging.''
While the American Red Cross didn't provide updated earthquake donation figures Thursday, the World Food Program and CARE said donations are lagging, according to the Associated Press. UNICEF said donations have been generous so far, reaching $1 million by Wednesday.
But some donors may be intentionally choosing relief organizations with ties to the region over the large, all-purpose charities.
For the first time, following the devastation left behind by the Dec. 26, 2004, tsunami, Shaikh said he saw non-Muslim donors seeking out Islamic Relief, knowing that the vast majority of victims were in Indonesia, a predominantly Muslim country……..