Sat, Dec 24, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Red Cross shares tsunami stories

EXPERIENCE On the eve of the first anniversary of the Dec. 26 tsunami, the Red Cross Society in Taiwan gave an account yesterday of its relief efforts in stricken areas

By Jean Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Marking the one-year anniversary of the devastating tsunami that hit Southeast and South Asia, the Red Cross Society in Taiwan yesterday shared the results of its year-long relief efforts in the region.

Chen Charng-ven (陳長文), the society's president, said that after the 921 Earthquake that struck Taiwan in 1999, disaster situations have been better understood and dealt with by the organization.

"The earthquake helped us learn the management of disaster relief, accumulate data as well as gain experience to facilitate and improve relief efforts in the tsunami disaster areas," Chen said.

Chen said that although the Wall Street Journal last week said that "tsunami recovery still moves slowly," the Red Cross is steadily fulfilling its plans, having used 40 percent of the donated funds so far.

The tsunami relief project was carried out in cooperation with the International Federation of Red Cross and other red-cross societies, said Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌), secretary-general of the society.

Friendship communities were set up in Sri Lanka, ensuring the rebuilding of houses, provision of sanitary water supply, and child-ren's education, Hau said.

A "Taiwan Village" was also set up in cooperation with Dharma Drum Mountain, a Buddhist human-itarian organization.

Sixteen students from Aceh Province in Indonesia were brought to Taiwan to study and received subsidies of NT$15,000 (US$452) per month, Hau said.

Chen said that a tsunami victim in the area gratefully said, "I don't know where Taiwan is, but I know that the Taiwanese people are kind."

Transparency is an important issue and one of the main areas of disciplines within the Red Cross, Chen said.

"We publish all donations in our newsletters and we list how we have spent the money routinely on Web sites," Chen said.

"Only through this method can an NPO [non-profit organization] ensure the support of the general public," he said.

Red Cross law stipulates that three members on the board of governors must be government-appointed auditors, Chen said.

It further assures that transparency requirements are met, he said.

Over 200,000 people in Taiwan made donations amounting to approximately NT$736 million to the Red Cross' tsunami relief project.

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