More than a million children will go to bed tonight having lost their parents or having been made homeless by the devastating tsunami. And when they awaken, their communities in tatters, they will face the threat of diseases borne by quieter water.
Standing water can be deadlier, if slower, than racing tidal waves. The tsunami-related flooding, raw sewage, and bodies rotting in the tropical heat have contaminated water supplies. Cholera, dysentery, typhoid, and other deadly diseases threaten anyone in the affected area, but children are at the greatest risk from waterborne disease. Having survived the pounding of enormous waves, they now risk serious illness from taking a drink of water.
The biggest relief operation in history is already underway, bringing fresh water, water purification equipment, blankets, medicine, and other vital supplies. The outpouring of generosity from people around the globe has been dramatic – but still far short of the billions that will be needed both to protect the children now and to rebuild their homes and their communities.
Let’s all give to organizations we trust that are on the frontlines making a difference. You might choose the United Nations Children’s Fund, (UNICEF), Save the Children, the Red Cross, or one of dozens of other organizations. It’s easy to be stunned by the enormity of the damage already done or to shake our heads as counting the dead continues, but the real issue now is caring for the millions of survivors who urgently need our help.