Organizes Tsunami Relief Efforts
By Eric Sean Weld
When vast regions
of south Asia and east Africa were devastated by an earthquake
and tsunami on December 26, the Smith community joined much
of the rest of the world in launching numerous efforts to raise money
and gather supplies for victims of the disaster.
“As our students,
faculty and staff return to campus, I have been moved by
all the ways in which the Smith community has been seeking to help,” wrote
President Carol T. Christ in January in a statement on the college Web site about
the outpouring of relief efforts.
During January, Smith’s Staff
Council collected more than 15 boxes of personal hygiene items, such
as shampoo, soap and combs, from the college community. The items were
sent to hard-hit areas of coastal Sri Lanka. Meanwhile at the Smith College
Campus School, kindergarteners and sixth-grade students teamed up for
a bake sale to raise funds for the cause. Smith’s track team helped
bake cookies, muffins and brownies, sixth-graders produced signs to advertise
the event, and the kindergarteners sold enough goodies to raise $400 for
the Save the Children’s tsunami relief fund.
Also in January, Smith’s
bookstore, the Grécourt Bookshop, collected
donations, which were contributed to the American Red Cross International
When students returned to campus
after interterm break, they organized and launched an array
of relief efforts on behalf of victims of the disasters. On February
7, several student groups coordinated a fund-raiser featuring Sri Lankan
desserts. Smith Democrats held a “liberal
date auction” on
February 11 and donated part of the proceeds to tsunami victims, and the
Student Government Association raised funds through an auction
a week later for the same cause. In late February, students formed a
Smith Coalition for Tsunami Relief and held a fund-raiser throughout
the month in which student houses collected donations, culminating with
a benefit dinner on February 21 in the Campus Center.
Students have also
acted individually. Aliyah Shanti ’08 was already
traveling with her father, David Albert, in southern India when the tsunami
hit. In its aftermath, they helped with the distribution of food to some
70,000 people affected by the Indian Ocean tsunamis.
there, Shanti reported her experience in an ongoing Web log
(shantinik.blogspot.com), which is still active. “Entire streets are a tangle of electric
wires, chests of drawers, cast-off clothing and water packets,” wrote
she and her father in a January 3 entry. “The smell is a mix of
rotting seafood and rotting bodies.”
Although news of the tsunami -- which claimed more than 150,000 lives
and caused incalculable damage -- has receded from international media
headlines, local efforts have continued. On March 4, Eve de la Mothe
joined several Amherst College students in organizing a runway fashion show,
which raised $3,500 for the World Health Organization on behalf of tsunami
victims. Subsequent events for March and April were also planned.
a dozen international students from countries affected by
the tsunamis -- India,
Thailand, Malaysia and Sri Lanka -- attend Smith. Fortunately, none of
the students, or their families, was directly affected.