Hubby and I was at Maha Vihara, one of the centre collection aid for the Tsunami survivors, yesterday evening after work after a tip off from a friend that they needed hands to load goods into lorries. As we walked in we saw lots of people hanging around and some were dragging plastic bags to the back of the temple. The situation seems calm and collect and not as chaotic as some friends (whom have volunteered themselves over the weekend) have described to me. All halls were filled with boxes and a whole lot of them covered in plastics were placed in the open air as there is simply not enough places for them.
We were kinda lost, not sure what to do, so hubby got hold of a monk and asked him about it. He told us we can do anything we liked from packing to sorting of clothes, help to unload goods from donors up to directing traffic (yes, cos apparently there were lots of vehicles dropping off goods over the weekend that caused congestion in and out of the temple).
However, we found out that most things have been done by yesterday evening and they have stopped accepting clothes other than clean undies (errr I've heard some donors actually donated SOILED undies, gosh, what's wrong with them???) and blankets. Some even try to donate empty mineral water bottles!! For goodness sake, what are they for??? The volunteers have to tell them off sarcastically that the temple is NOT a recycling centre!
Since hubby drives a 4x4, he volunteered to send some of the goods to the port. The monk directed him inside the office and met a Mr Ma. Apparently this Mr Ma had volunteered part of his warehouse in Port Klang to store the goods before shipping out to disaster zones and if not mistaken also his fleet of lorries. He told us that most of the goods were transported to the warehouse on Sunday evening and he was surprised that when he reached the temple yesterday and saw so many boxes piling up again.
He had not scheduled any trip to the port yesterday as he had to attend to his own business. He was in fact planning for one this evening around 5pm and will contact hubby once the schedule is out. Kudos, Mr Ma!
When asked why shipments are made out mostly to Sri Lanka and not Aceh, we were told there is complication in sending to Aceh. Apparently there are two places in Indonesia where the warehouses are located. One in Jakarta and another in Medan. The warehouses are filled to the brim and everyone in the world we told not to send any shipments there at the moment except for medical supplies. The reason for this bottleneck was simply there is no way to transport these goods to Aceh as ports and landing strips were destroyed.
This was really true as I heard the volunteers need to track about 4 days to reach Aceh!!! Goodness... it's so sad. At the moment, medical supplies to Aceh is via air drop. Currently, most shipments are sent to Colombo, Sri Lanka via US Navy except for medical supplies where airlines like Transmile had donated freight space.
I've never imagined that there were so many things and services that can be donated or volunteered, from warehouse space, transportation, sifting thru the clothes, directing traffic, loading, unloading, arranging for all sorts of logistics etc and etc. So many key people there volunteered their service running the show, coordinating donations and distributing them.
As for the cash donation to Maha Vihara, they have not decided yet on what to do with it. They'll announce it later. As they can see it, the money may be needed later on to rebuild schools, infrastructures and so forth.
To those of you who hasn't do your bit, from the list pasted at the temple, the survivors now need the following:-
1. Clean water
2. Medicines - pain killers, oral rehydration salt, diarrhoea and wind tablets etc
4. Clean undies
5. Cooking utensils
6. Unbreakable bowls, plates etc
7. Sanitary napkins
8. Baby Diapers
9. Milk powder
12. Cotton wool
Well that's all I could recall at the moment. There are now more avenues you can donate your goods to. Vivekananda (I hope I got the spelling correct) at the nearby Maha Vihara is also a collection centre. All Guardian, Giant and Cold Storage stores in West Malaysia are collecting goods and cheques. Please check the local papers for further details.
Friends, please do your bit for every cent count.