The numbers vary: over 3000 now presumed dead, or 3200. It was a 7.8 earthquake or a 6.7. Aftershocks. More people trapped that aren’t numbered amongst the dead. Yet. The response on the Internet is passionate and sincere, and the tweets and Facebook posts and Tumblr posts immediately followed the breaking news on the cable news stations:
“Pray for Nepal.”
My friend Rowena inspired this blog post. She said that she is a Christian who believes in the power of prayer, but she finds the “Pray for Nepal” posts irksome. When she said that, I was immediately reminded of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan and the subsequent “Pray for Japan” posts, tweets, Photoshopped images, and even merchandise. Rowena said that dread word that so many of us think when we’re confronted with a national disaster (in a country besides the United States) but are afraid to say:
Oh, you’re praying for Nepal? That’s so good of you! And look, you have a “Pray for Nepal” bracelet! Did the $10 not including shipping you spent on the bracelet go to relief efforts in Nepal? You don’t know?
Why don’t you know?
By all means, pray for Nepal. THEN DO SOMETHING. If prayer isn’t motivating you to act, YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG. What relief agencies and workers in Nepal need are trained volunteers, and money. Most of us aren’t able to go to Nepal to volunteer as rescue workers. We haven’t got the funds or the skills. BUT what most of us can do is donate $5 or more to a LEGITIMATE disaster relief organization. Do not allow yourself to get suckered by the scammers that inevitably pop up in the wake of a disaster. Don’t buy bracelets and tee-shirts. You don’t need to show off the fact that you’re helping. Do not get involved in sending donations of water, food, or clothes unless relief workers request that instead of funds. Your donations–unless you own Walmart–are costly to ship and then transport to the disaster location.
If you want to help Nepal, by all means pray. Pray every day. And donate whatever you can afford, even if it’s just $5, to an organization like Doctors Without Borders.
These organizations are recommended by the New York Times:
If you’re reading this, you have the entire Internet at your fingertips and you can research other organizations. PLEASE research before donating if you’ve never heard the name of the organization before. This applies any time you are considering giving your money to someone for any charitable purpose.
Faith without works is dead.
*This is not an exhaustive list. I linked to it because it includes Doctors Without Borders, Red Cross, and Habitat for Humanity.