Sadly, there’s nothing like a high-profile natural disaster to give Americans a crash-course in world geography and politics. It might have been Peterman’s getaway on Seinfeld, but Myanmar has been under military dictatorship since 1992, and life was hard there well before Cyclone Nargis. Usually when disaster strikes, caring people try to figure out how to gather the supplies and expertise most needed to relieve the pain and suffering. The current situation in Myanmar has shifted the discussion to how to actually get the goods to those in need over the objection and meddling of the national government. I have to wonder if this will come to foreign jets flying over sovreign Myanmar territory and dropping supplies directly to the needy.
The New York Times Lede blog identified a dozen charities known to be active in at least attempting to provide relief in Myanmar. Some of these organziations have managed to get people on the ground already. I urge you to consider a donation to any one of these organizations. I’ve set up a fundraising page (see the widget in the sidebar at right) for one, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, and there are other Firstgiving pages operating for the Heart Touch Project and WorldVision.