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Rotary Responds to Tsunami Disaster
I grew up in Florida and lived through many major hurricanes that rendered great devastation to that state. The losses were mainly in property and the loss of life each year was minimal. But nothing I experienced during that time and since, would even remotely compare to what has just happened to those who live in the countries that were hit by this Tsunami. I watched the TV in horror and dismay as I saw stacks of bodies of children and adults who only a few hours before were laughing and playing on the sunny beaches. It is not within our power or understanding to make sense of this kind of chaos, but it is within our power to assist in helping the living to regain their health and some measure of economic recovery.
The hearts of all Americans and the rest of the world have been touched in a way that we could not imagine just a little more than a week ago. For more than a week there has been very little news of the conflict in Iraq as the front pages of all of the newspapers have graphically depicted the destruction of sections of India, Indonesia, Thailand and Sri Lanka with the attendant loss of nearly 150, 000 lives. Unless the world acts quickly, that number can easily double.
We, both as citizens of this great nation, and members of Rotary have within our grasp, the capability to do something of a greater magnitude than we have had to consider before, and already Rotarians in all parts of the world, and in every part of District 5260, have responded in magnificent fashion.
It is most important that we act quickly and with prudent planning to work together to maximize the amount of money that we raise.
Already, the clubs of Mammoth Lakes and Bishop have organized a telethon to offer the communities in their areas an opportunity to be part of a fundraiser. Assistant Governor Leo Pisculli is working with Bishop Club Presidents Dave Patterson and Leslie Nixon, Mammoth Lakes Club Presidents Michael Aguirre and Wally Hofmann to assure the success of the Telethon. This is a magnificent effort brought forth by this team of leaders. The funds that are raised will be directed to Sumatra where Bob Tomko has been in contact with District 3400. Bob Tomko, who has many business contacts in Sumatra, will be leaving for Sumatra on January 20th and will be joined by Mammoth Lakes Club President Wally Hoffman on February 1. They will be giving us a first hand report on the conditions and the kind of help needed in that area.
Since we cannot possibly cover a large area with our limited resources it will be best if we concentrate our efforts in a few areas where we have contacts in place. The two main areas we will be working with will be Sumatra and Thailand. Our most recent GSE team will prove to be invaluable in these efforts as they are on the ground and are currently involved in relief work.
I am attempting to enlist PRIP Bhichai Ratakul to be the focal point of our efforts in Thailand. There are other Rotarians already there who are offering their assistance.
The District Leadership Meeting will be focused on the efforts we must make to aid the victims of the Tsunami. Please be prepared to offer your suggestions and help our District provide meaningful contributions to this humanitarian effort. If we do what we are capable of, we can truly Celebrate In Chicago.
May God Bless each and everyone one of you.
Kermit and Marsha Floyd
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