Thomas Tighe at the DRI warehouse in Goleta
Paul Wellman

With the benefit of thousands of local donations, the Santa Barbara-based Direct Relief International sent $500,000 in cash and $200,000 in essential medical supplies toward Myanmar to help in the wake of Cyclone Nargis on 5/2. In addition to support from major healthcare companies and numerous private donors, 8,200 people used a prominent link to Direct Relief International (DRI) and UNICEF to help the cause. According to Direct Relief statistics, the money has helped fund 21,300 courses of treatment for bacterial and upper respiratory infections, dehydration, diarrhea, cholera, and other water-borne diseases, as well as basic instruments and materials for wound care and other trauma needs. Getting the aid there has proved troublesome, however. Although between 68,833 and 127,990 have been killed, according to Red Cross estimates, and a million left homeless and injured, the Myanmar government rejected assistance on 5/8, prompting DRI to hold an emergency meeting with Partnership for Quality Medical Donations, a collaboration of healthcare providers. As a result, the nonprofit approved a $25,000 investment to a clinic operating from the Thai side of Myanmar’s border to negotiate relief practices. DRI is also currently attempting to send aid to China’s Sichuan province, where a 7.9-magnitude earthquake on 5/12 may have killed as many as 16,665 people.


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