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Indie producer Tanya Selvaratnum (On Line) sent an email out last week to her friends detailing the devastation that occured in her native Sri Lanka due to the tsunami. Her own family is safe but a number of family friends were lost, and Selvaratnum notes that 1/13th of the country’s entire population has been displaced by the disaster.

In trying to figure out the best way to donate relief, she contacted the Sri Lankan government:

“Something hilarious happened when I tried to contact the Sri Lankan government directly. I emailed the Prime Minister asking how we expats can help the most. I received a response saying to make donations directly to a bank account, making checks out to ‘The Secretary to the Prime Minister.’ I guess the Sri Lankan government has not yet reformed!”

Today she sent out another email with more details from her contacts there:

“I have spoken to my family members many times over the past week. In Sri Lanka, the situation is far more dire than we will ever hear about from our news. In the most devastated areas, it has become Lord of the Flies land. There are cases of looting, robbing from the bodies of the dead, and raping of refugees and local aid workers. But hopefully the international mechanisms will get up to speed soon, and the situation will reach a manageable state. My aunt says that there is almost too much aid pouring into local relief groups, and that it needs to be spread out over time, so that it doesn’t get squandered or end up in the wrong pockets. It is important to be careful about which organizations we give to. And what is needed desperately is an increased presence of foreign monitors to facilitate the relief process.

FYI, I have been in contact with Doctors Without Borders. As of today, they are not accepting any more donations specifically earmarked for ‘tsunami relief’ because they have received such a tremendous influx. They are still accepting donations that are more broadly applicable to ’emergency work.’ Aside from Network for Good, you can also look at the sites below for suggestions of where to give:

CNN Quake Aid Sites

U.S. Aid.Gov

I am not traveling to Sri Lanka this week, but instead will organize a benefit of ‘Artists for Tsunami Relief’ to take place on either January 19 or 20. I will let you know the details.”

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