As a longtime and devoted traveler to Italy, I’m stricken by the photos and accounts from central Italy in the wake of the earthquake that struck on Wednesday, August 24. More than 250 people are confirmed dead, many more injured, and the damage is severe, including in the village of Amatrice, which appears to be almost totally destroyed.
The natural inclination is to ask, “What can I do?”
I’ve written about this subject before. The first thing NOT to do is to send food, clothing or supplies, unless you personally know that someone’s going to get them there. It’s difficult for rescuers to reach many of the stricken areas at all, and there is little likelihood that your donations of goods will reach Amatrice, Accumoli, Arquata del Tronto or other communities for a long time to come.
Established agencies like the Croce Rossa Italiano, the Italian branch of the International Red Cross, are mobilized specifically for situations like this. What do they need? Funds. Monetary donations are the most immediate and direct means to assist people who need food, water, shelter and medical assistance. The Croce Rossa and other aid organizations have the means to determine the types of assistance and supplies that are needed and get them to the scene.
CLICK HERE to go to the appropriate page on the Croce Rossa’s website, or use this URL:
That page is written in Italian. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has established a site in English for donating American dollars. CLICK HERE or use this URL:
The closest I’ve been to the damage zone is probably the Umbrian hill town of Montefalco, approximate 45 miles northwest of Amatrice. I can imagine the small towns in their mountain settings, but it’s difficult to picture the scale of the devastation and the degree of human suffering that’s happening at this moment.
An American Disaster
While the subject is disaster relief, here in the United States there’s a dire situation in Louisiana caused by catastrophic flooding. The American Red Cross has issued an urgent plea for funds to provide assistance for the tens of thousands of people made homeless by the floods. The flood is on the scale of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and the need is great. CLICK HERE to navigate to the alert, or go to http://www.redcross.org.
One Other Way to Help Someone
One thing you can always do to help people in need, any day of the year, is to donate blood. The Red Cross assists not only victims of disasters, but individuals undergoing a vast range of medical conditions and emergencies with blood donations, and there is always a short supply. I’ve done it numerous times, and I’m due for another visit. It takes about an hour. You will help save someone’s life, and it doesn’t get much better than that. Go to http://www.redcross.org/give-blood for more information.
In Australia, longtime reader Mark previously provided this link: http://www.donateblood.com.au/.
I wrote HERE at length about blood donation, and how the procedure works (not gory or graphic, trust me).
Here are the simple, powerful facts:
To quote the American Red Cross: “There are no substitutes for blood.”
It cannot be manufactured.
It’s up to ordinary citizens to contribute.
Thank you. Grazie.
Under Western Skies is read in many countries. If you can suggest the URL for your country’s branch of the International Red Cross, leave a comment.
Acknowledgement to CNN.com for the Croce Rossa and International Red Cross links.
© Brad Nixon 2016