Monday, May 12, 2008

Personal FAQ

I've been asked why I created Myanmar Relief, and what my connection is to Myanmar / Burma.

The short answer to the "why" question is fairly simple: I'm an organizer by nature, and also have a fairly strong social conscience. About 15 years ago, in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Andrew in Florida, it was clear to me that local or national disaster response governmental bureaucracies (and even NGOs, in some cases) aren't necessarily the most efficient organizations when it comes to quickly getting aid where it's needed. So I reached out to my personal networks of contacts, friends, and families, and organized one of the first relief efforts to reach South Florida after the hurricane.

Since that time, when a major disaster hits anywhere in the world (or I perceive a grievous social injustice) I've tried to assist in some manner. The internet has become a fantastic tool for organizing and focusing the necessary information, and I've developed the skills (and networking contacts) over the years to quickly throw a site like this together in order to aggregate information and facilitate relief efforts.

One thing that drives me absolutely crazy is when political considerations get in the way of helping every day people in humanitarian situations. Then again, that's why you haven't read much here about the political situation in Myanmar, and why I've tried to limit any commentary about delays in getting aid where it's needed. In taking this approach, I've tried to focus on how to get the job done, rather than bitch about the obstacles.

My connection to the tragedy? None, other than my connection to the human race. That's the strongest connection I can imagine.


Gashwin said...

Mr. Blair -- that's connection enough. I have no "real" connection Burma (it's a neighbor to the land of my birth, India) ... the human tragedy is reason enough. Thanks for your efforts.

Max said...

Where are you based now? Are you in the US and apart from ThirstAid, do you have many other direct contacts in Burma?

Richard Blair said...

I'm based in the U.S., Philadelphia area. My contacts in Burma are limited to those I've listed in the various writeups on NGO contacts.