On Saturday, a massive earthquake hit Nepal, registering 7.9 on the richter scale. More than 4,000 people have been confirmed dead so far in worst earthquake the country has seen in 80 years. It may seem like a noble idea to jump onto a plane to Kathmandu right now to help out but that may do more harm than good. According to humanitarian aid worker Jessica Alexandra, writing on Slate, there are two things everyone who really wants to help out shouldn’t do.
1. Do not go to Nepal
Alexandra says that when inexperienced volunteers flood a disaster zone they simply get in the way of the professionals and delay the work being done to help those who truly need it. Volunteers need to be fed, given a place to sleep and kept safe, but the time, resources and energy used doing this could be spent on caring for people directly affected by the disaster. It is easier, and much more helpful, to have someone with a specific skill set come to help out.
2. Do not send stuff to Nepal
Sending your old clothes, shoes, blankets and the teddy bear that helped you through your fear of darkness as a kid may seem helpful but it isn’t. There is simply no capacity to process these goods. Receiving donated goods just creates more work for aid workers who are already busy and often overworked. There is no time to sort these goods and truck them to affected areas when people have are suffering from physical and emotional trauma.
Still, there are ways you can really help.
The best and simplest is to send money to legitimate organisations that are equipped to help. In a time where internet scams are a dime a dozen, here is a list of legal and verified humanitarian organisations where you can send money to help the people of Nepal. These include the International Committee of the Red Cross Register of Missing Persons, the Post-Earthquake Relief Fund, and Habitat for Humanity, among others.