Rebecca Martin '99 Volunteers in Sri Lanka for the Tsunami Relief Efforts
"The pictures on the news networks touched us all – as we know. We were moved to give unprecedented levels of aid, with a reported 45% of the American public having donated to tsunami relief efforts by mid-January. For me, the impulse to aid the survivors took the form of calls to former colleagues working in humanitarian relief. I had spent three years in Indonesia doing relief and development, and felt compelled to offer my time and experience if I could be useful.
"I was deployed, but not to Indonesia. I've been in Sri Lanka helping to manage Mercy Corps' tsunami relief efforts for about five weeks now. Mercy Corps, an American NGO run, coincidentally, by another SOM alumnus – Neal Keny-Guyer, has a presence in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and India among many other countries.
"In Sri Lanka we are working through local not-for-profits to aid the recovery process. With funds received from USAID, we've given hundreds of thousands of dollars of grants to local groups to do everything from building and cleaning wells to providing psychological support to survivors to distributing necessary household items. We also run "cash for work" programs through which we pay local residents for clean up of debris and other projects, injecting cash back into the local economies. We're also now starting a livelihood recovery project funded by the British government. These projects are all supplemented by the tremendous response we received from individual donors.
"I, for my part, am managing the finances and administrative support for our operations. I've helped set up offices and hire and train new staff. It has been quite a challenge. As with all emergency and set up operations, we find ourselves working 10 – 12 hour days, seven days a week. But it is well worth it."
– Rebecca Martin
Rebecca is currently on leave from her position as Associate Director of the Program on Social Enterprise at the Yale School of Management.