If you want to help, give money instead of items.
This is the message that relief effort veterans have for members of the public who want to help victims of the Nepal earthquake.
Singapore Red Cross secretary-general Benjamin William said the organisation does not accept in-kind donations like clothes due to freight-related issues.
“Besides the need for permits, there may be delays in clearing the items at the airport due to the influx of donations from all over the world,” he said.
“If there is a delay, a fine may even be imposed. That is after deploying extensive resources to collect, sort and pack at the initial stage.”
Since launching the appeal for the Nepal earthquake on Sunday, the Singapore Red Cross has received more than 30 written queries on in-kind donations.
Mr William said monetary donations are encouraged as they give the flexibility of buying items more quickly at unaffected areas within the country or nearby countries.
Corporate Citizen Foundation technical adviser Hassan Ahmad, who is in Nepal, said that when he headed Mercy Relief for eight years, he came across people who insisted on donating in kind.
“They were well intended, but generally not appropriate. Clothes may not be culturally acceptable at the affected areas or food may not be within the dietary requirements,” he explained.
Mr Johann Annuar, who is Medecins Sans Frontieres Hong Kong’s peer representative for Singapore, said his best advice for those who want to help in the relief efforts is to find someone they trust.
“Co with somebody you know personally, perhaps a friend who’s doing something on the ground,” he said.
by Ling Yuanrong
The New Paper
29 April 2015