Sarosh Syed (Sri Lanka)

Sarosh Syed (Home for Human Rights – HHR – Sri Lanka): Sarosh is from Karachi, Pakistan. He moved to the United States in 1995 to attend Northwestern University where he received a BA in Math and Art History. After graduating from NU, Sarosh went to work for the software industry specializing in language translation and localization software. After a brief stint of traveling in Europe, he turned to the non-profit world. He worked with environmental organizations such as Conservation International, the Public Interest Research Group and social justice organizations such as the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project and the American Civil Liberties Union. Most of his Ngo work concerned marketing and communications. At the time of his fellowship, Sarosh was studying for a Master of Science in Foreign Service degree at Georgetown University.

Who’s Needy Enough?

17 Jul

The organizations involved in HHRТs post-tsunami reconstruction project decided last week to expand the project to cover at least four more villages. I started this week to explore a 30 km stretch of the eastern coast in search of villages that fit HHRТs criteria. The experience so far has been as emotionally draining as it has been educational. Between the tsunami and the conflict, there is no shortage of people in need of help, and it is heartbreaking to try to eliminate villages that fall out of HHRТs mandate.

With so many people in desperate need, how does one decide how to spend restricted funds? Does one help the tsunami-displaced children who have to walk 5 km in oppressive heat and blazing sun just to go to school? Or the 30-family village that has no source of water other than a leaking, 40 gallon tank that is refilled once a fortnight? Or the 27 families crowded into nine 12Т x 12Т tents? Or the village where people make four dollars a week but seem far better off because they have houses?

And those are just the villages affected by the tsunami.

There is no question that tsunami victims deserve every ounce of international support they have received. But how does one turn oneТs back on the crumbling, decade-old refugee camps that make the tsunami camps appear luxurious? The women who give birth on the side of the road because they couldnТt walk the 12 km to the nearest hospital? Or the 60-year-old man who rides a bicycle for four hours everyday to sell beverages and cigarettes for profits of 80 cents a day?

How does one decide who is needy enough to deserve help?

Posted By Sarosh Syed (Sri Lanka)

Posted Jul 17th, 2005

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