Tsunami::Notes for donors
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Apr 14, '05:: An important notice.

As of Mar 31, 2005 the relaxed rules for receiving funds from abroad has ended. We therefore reluctantly request our donors from abroad not to follow the remittance instructions alongside. Rupee donations of course can keep coming.

Many organisations have apeealed for extension and are hopeful the government will accede. As soon as that happens we will be able to clear the payments already in the pipeline and also receive fresh contributions.

Jan 07, '05:: ECCO: the advantages and limits.

Intending donors must know something about ECCO before they commit their money. This is an amplification of an earlier post, to be found below this.

Of ECCO's 50 members, only a handful are active and just one or two are involved in the relief work on a day to day basis. But we find that it is enough, because of the close interaction we have, with the affected people, many of them on a first name basis. [They have known us for two years now when we have given them counsel, legal aid, publicity and spokesmanship in their battle against a local resort which has encroached on community lands.] We are able to appreciate the mis-match between their needs and the relief assistance that is expected to come through. We have their trust.

President of ECCO, D V Sridharan [DV] 63, had been a sea-going engineer and the Secretary, Navaz Currimbhoy [Navaz] 42, is an active week-end sailor. Between them they are able to assess the fishermen's technology needs and a boat-builder's approach to his craft. Additionally, DV was in charge of a steel ship yard for sometime and also consulted for large trawler owners, though many decades ago. Both Navaz and DV also have business experience and are aware of the pitfalls of placing orders on small boat builders, advancing money and getting stuck. We are able to assess the best prices to pay in a specialist market. We are also aware of fishermen's maverick ways and can plain-speak our minds. Selecting the most deserved of the relief goods, putting in place some safe-guards against their misuse or transfer etc are issues DV and Navaz have applied their minds to. We also keenly watch the relief that is flowing in and will not duplicate it. We will not give them cash, ever.

The best relief organisations have some bureaucracy and some overheads. ECCO has neither. We investigate, interact, discuss and decide all within reasonable time and without great rituals. All overhead costs are absorbed by ECCO members and their time of course, is free. In addition, many of their names appear in the donors list. In fact we were planning to assist with just our funds, when a pleasant love-tsunami came upon us in the form of spontaneous donations. So we scaled-up our dreams and opted to be relief workers on behalf of others, ensuring zero-leakage.

We adhere to the laws of the land to the letter but are not given to great structural organisation or paper-work. Before tsunami'04, ECCO had not even a bank account and after the relief work has ended we will have none either. Our regular campaign needs are picked up by invidual contributions, as and when the need arises. The Tsunami relief funds will be accounted for on-line here and the programme will be ended.

For the same reason, we cannot give individual receipts, tax break documentation or private letters. We will send a newsletter now and then and post all developments here. Of course, we welcome emails within the ambit of our chosen work area and will certainly answer them.

You will appreciate the need for a small group like ECCO to keep a narrow focus. In terms of geography, our focus is Kari Kattu Kuppam [K K Kuppam], a brief profile of which appears elsewhere in these pages. We know this fishing hamlet well and live close to it. We know the community's secret ways, eccentricities and true losses. Only if the work is done here and the funds continue to flow, will we look beyond K K Kuppam to the next village.

Our relief focus is livelihood goods. More specifically, procuring and supplying standard units of fishing boat+nets to the extent funds are available. We are also collecting dry rations but are not releasing them yet. We will when the formal relief engine stops and fishermen's incomes have not begun to flow. We will continue with counseling work which is non-fund work. We may also offer or channel advisory services [for example in housing design, sanitation]. Beyond these, we know many needs exist in areas like housing finance, orphan rehabilitation, relief camp education, gender issues, health care and so on. As far as K K Kuppam is concerned we believe, these are being considered by others and ECCO is not competent in those spheres. We therefore cannot accept funds except for the livelihood programme we have chosen to run. There are several organisations that cater to these. If your aid inclination is for areas we are not competent in, please search the internet for the right organisation. This is a good place to start your search: http://tsunamihelp.blogspot.com/

We though you'd appreciate this upfront statement.

Jan 01, '05:: Reality notes.

There are a few up-front statements we need to make. This is important because of the scale and depth of the problem. It's only right that the help your hearts are urging you to offer, goes to the right organisation and through it, to the right place.

ECCO has just 50 members and of them only a very few have the time to be active. It focuses mainly on environmental issues. It has never raised money formally. Whatever was required, whenever, members have informally contributed and carried the day. We are not even a registered body. We are just an association of people. We have been told that we can open an account for this specific purpose of relief work, render account and close it when we are done. Therefore, ECCO will have a bank account by Jan 5, 2005. Cheques can be drawn favouring ECCO-Tsunami Relief Account, and the amounts will go to fund our Tsunami Action Plan

Cheques may be sent to:
Navaz N Currimbhoy
26, Evening Bazaar Road
Chennai 600 003
Phones: Chennai: 98410 42470 [Navaz], 98400 35860 [DV]
email: goodnewsindia@gmail.com , navaz@currimbhoys.com

For all the foregoing reasons, we are not geared for documentation. We cannot even issue a receipt except informally through email by an ECCO member. Your cheques should be crossed and that must serve as your documentation. We cannot offer any tax break certification. We just don't know where to begin with that sort of thing.

Most importantly, as of this date, we don't even know what we want money for. It's a constantly changing scene. The first day's needs were obsolete on the second day, and the second day's on the third. Also as damages go, K K Kuppam [Karikkattu Kuppam] has taken only a modest hit. And being close to Chennai has been blessed by relief work on a broad front. Food, clothes, shelter, health care etc are not a problem as of this date, Jan 1, '05. There is a great likelihood of K K Kuppam residents getting land allotted on high ground and that will go to assuage their fears.

So your donations in kind and money will be held over for a future date, to be spent on a plan we don't know yet. Read our tentative Action Plans here.Briefly, we are guided at the moment [Jan 01, 05] by the following judgments:

dry rations will run out in 4 weeks and we may release the 800 kg that have been pledged so far
money will be used for gaps that outside donations cannot fill. At the moment we are thinking of a fibre glass boat repair centre. seed money for housing and possibly getting kitchen gardens going in their new housing lots. There is even a tentative plan to introduce them systematically in a calibrated manner to the potential of biodiesel trees as a long term source of fuel for fishing. Yet another stream of thinking is that while formal aid may replace the boats that were there ECCO, might fund new boats to be rented out by women's self help groups. The honest statement that can make is that we don't have a formal action plan as yet.

Our strength is that we are close to the people and know most of them by first name. We are constantly aware of the help they are getting, which is considerable. So we are keeping our minds open as to the help they need.

All the foregoing adds up to this bottom-line. Send or pledge only the money that can be spent in the long term on a plan that is yet to be formalised. If you need to send away money immediately, cast your eyes wide for needs elsewhere. A good place to start is http://tsunamihelp.blogspot.com/

Tsunami'04 is bigger than we realise or will ever realise. Simplistic approaches won't work.

East Coast Citizens' Organisation

President: D V Sridharan
Secretary: Navaz Currimbhoy

Information for Tsunami Relief Donors
Cheques and drafts should favour "ECCO - Tsunami Relief Account #5-131-5564" and be payable in Chennai, India.
Bharat Overseas Bank Ltd.,
George Town Branch
Chennai - 600 001

Mail your cheques to:
Navaz Currimbhoy,
Secretary, ECCO,
26, Evening Bazaar Road
Chennai 600 003
D V Sridharan
301 Raheja Villa
49 First Main Road
Gandhi Nagar
Adyar, Chennai 600 020

Contact Phones at Chennai, India
Code: 91-044 [within India to Chennai]:
91-44 [outside India to Chennai]
98410 42470 [Navaz],
98400 35860 [DV]
goodnewsindia@gmail.com [DV]
navaz@currimbhoys.com [Navaz]

Residents overseas can send payments in two ways.
1- The slower way is to mail your cheques to one of the above two addresses. The cheques will then make a round trip to your bank and the final amount will be credited after some time. Till then we will reflect a rate of Rs.43/us$ in our accounts.
2- The second way is faster but a little more involved. You can mention the above ECCO bank account details to your bank manager and ask him if he can wire transfer to that account. Usually they have arrangements with an intermediate bank that will provide them with the necessary instructions.