Monday, June 1, 2009

Travel Philanthropy in Action!

Now this is a post that really suits the title of this blog..... ...be inspired!

Tourism companies are coming together to do "real" work on the ground to support rehabilitation efforts following the devastation caused by Cyclone Aila. Strangely enough, it has not been reported too widely in the western media, so no one knows about it, but this cyclone killed over 200 people and has widely displaced people, and in the reserves in the Sunderbans, wildlife, including the endangered Royal Bengal Tiger.

Some pictures of the devastation from the new search engine, www.bing.com is here http://www.tinyurl.com/ailapics ... I warn you that some of the pictures will depress you.

However, nature has a way to strike and there is nothing we can do about it, except follow in its wake and do the humanitarian thing. HELP! in any way we can.

In this particular case, the response has been inspiring. The Blue Yonder and Travel to Care were quick to respond to the actions initiated immediately by Help Tourism, all private tourism operations, concerned, responsible, and committed. Thats inspiring. And that is not all. Immediately across the world, Grace Tours in Denmark, Ethical Travel Portal in Norway and Respontour.net in Austria, chipped in and set up bank accounts and have started a campaign of fund raising to help support the rehabilitation efforts on the ground. Again, all private operations, concerned, responsible and committed.

Talk of Travel Philanthropy in action! Kudos, Asit, Raj Basu, Gopi, Ashish, Karen, Marcus, Linda ... You are inspiring a lot of people right now!


___________________________________
Letter from the organisers requesting support

Cyclone Aila hit Eastern India & Bangladesh on 24th of May 2009 and left a path of destruction in its wake directly affecting over 5 million people and reportedly killing 200 people. Although under-reported by western media, local aid agencies say that the true extent of the tragedy is gradually unfolding.

A number of districts in West Bengal, India are deeply affected as heavy rains and gale force winds tore into houses and trees, damaging roads, electrical & communication infrastructure. Further south in the Sunderbans Delta, over 400,000 people in 200 villages are marooned due to floods. With their homes under water due to breaches in embankments, schools and government offices are serving as temporary, but wholly inadequate shelter, while others are still at the mercy of the elements. According reports from UNDMT India, many villages in the worst-affected areas still remain inaccessible.

Asit Biswas from the NGO, ACT (Association for Conservation and Tourism) reported from the world famous Sunderbans, home to the Royal Bengal tiger, that “thousands of villagers are still stranded without food or freshwater in Bali and adjacent islands. Cultivated fields and fresh water bodies have turned saline due to breaches in embankments; carcasses of their cattle are still floating, leaving homeless communities to ponder about their livelihoods. “

Traveltocare.com in association with The Blue Yonder and Help Tourism has set up a “Cyclone Aila 2009 Support Group” on the social networking site ‘Facebook’. The group has launched a fund raising campaign to help the people affected by the cyclone. For more information pls see http://rtnetworking.org/aila

Karen Stigsen of Traveltocare.com said, “We have our partners, ACT in West Bengal, working closely with local communities and in conservation initiatives for several years. To help in their initiatives in disaster relief, we took up the responsibility to help raise funds for them.“ Our joint initiative has also partnered with Charities Aid Foundation in India (www.cafindia.org) so that funds we raise can be transferred to their account. CAF India will then redistribute the funds to assist in the work undertaken by ACT.

Based on daily reports from ACT and other local agencies, assessment of the damage is still going on and we are yet to receive the extent to which financial support will be needed in different locations. Four trucks of essential items and medicine have been sent to those most in need.

We invite all individuals and organisations to join us in this initiative and make a positive difference to the lives of thousands of people. Working closely with our local partners, we will send you regular updates on how the funds are being utilised & the status on the ground. Any surplus funds raised will be utilised for disaster mitigation, rehabilitation, conservation & livelihood support of the local region.

The bank details are in the hyperlink below. Please note that any transfers should have a reference code “FBCA2009”. This way, it is easy for us to track down the amount raised. We look forward to your support.

Donation details are available
http://rtnetworking.org/aila/donate.htm

Updates are also available on
http://rtnetworking.org/aila/update.htm

If you are on Facebook, you can follow it at http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=85465385255

On twitter, follow the #aila2009 hashtag for activity and updates on how this is progressing.

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