From my friend Fouad Pervez:
I never do these appeals, but with all the natural disasters hitting this past year, it might be high time.
The news out of the regions struck by the massive earthquake this past weekend is heartbreaking. Around 40,000 dead, and that total may climb significantly, 2.5-5 million homeless...the worst part is that the worst-hit villages are only now starting to get aid. People have been starving (it's Ramadan, many of these people were fasting when this hit) and freezing while they brave the elements outside (the weather can be brutal this time of year - they already were out in a hail storm, heavy rain...and now snow might be moving in the Kashmir area). Two big tremors hit, 5.3 and 6.2 on the richter scale. The UN and other relief agencies on the ground are asking governments and people for as much help as possible. People don't have blankets, food, basic medicine, any shelter, etc. A total catastrophe, and it's probably getting worse by the minute.
It's all a lot to process. I have a lot of family in northern Pakistan where this hit. The 20-story building that collapsed in Islamabad is pretty close to where some of them live. Everyone over there is completely petrified.
Lots of people have been asking how they can help in the relief effort. I can think of 2 ways:
1) Call up your Senators and Representatives...encourage them to push for more aid. Last I checked, the US pledged $50 million, less than what we spend in Iraq each day. While $50m isn't nothing, it's less than small countries like Qatar and Kuwait have given. (And no, we haven't done nearly enough in response to Katrina, either - unbelievable, we'll spend billions to bomb and occupy, but have to be shamed to spend anything to save lives). Pakistan is an incredibly poor country, they just don't have resources to handle this, and need all the help they can get.
2) Donate if you can. Best places to give:
Islamic Relief (appointed lead NGO for the earthquake)
International Committee of the Red Cross
You heard the man. Get going.