Tsunami Relief Operations Update

January 13, 2005

Tsunami Relief Operations Update

Several associations have updated Professional Jeweler about their efforts to spearhead relief operations for tsunami victims.

Jewelry Industry Relief Fund
The American Gem Trade Association, the Gemological Institute of America, Jewelers of America and the International Colored Gemstone Association set up the Jewelry Industry Relief Fund with Save the Children and thank the industry for an overwhelming response. Save the Children, the non-profit organization, set up a special page for JIRF on its website to track JIRF donations. For those still wishing to donate, go here.

Send checks to Meredith McWade, Director, Global Corporate Partnerships, Save the Children, 54 Wilton Rd., Westport, CT 06880. Write "JIRF" in the memo area of your check. You can also call (800) 728-3843 to make donations.

World Federation of Diamond Bourses Relief Fund
The Singapore Diamond Exchange, one of 25 WFDB member bourses, is spearheading relief operations for the organization. Suresh Hatiramani, who established the WFDB Relief Fund, is also coordinating it. WFDB asks donations be sent to Diamond of Singapore Exchange - WFDB Relief Fund, DBS Bank, Liat Towers Branch, Singapore, US$ Account No. 0065-002761-01-2 (DBS is a correspondent of the Bank of New York, 48 Wall Street, New York, NY 10286) For more information, e-mail DES@worldfed.com.

Gordon Bleck, Sri Lankan Gem Dealer
Gem dealer Gordon Bleck, who lives in Ratnapura, Sri Lanka, established a relief fund and is traveling to devastated areas to help directly ("Sri Lankan Gem Dealer Appeals for Urgent Help", Jan. 3). He established the fund with nearly $4,000 of his own money, as well as donations. Bleck is asking for further donations so he can continue his rescue missions.

Bleck reported he returned from his first rescue operation in the devastated southeast coast regions of Sri Lanka Jan. 13 and donations are providing relief. Excerpted from his e-mail:

"I have returned safe and sound from the far side of the island after a very comprehensive overland reconnaissance adventure through the jungle, across rivers and bays and through way too much mud.

"Even though this was to be a recon expedition to discern what was most needed on the devastated east and southeast coast of the island, I could not go empty handed. We filled every available cubic centimeter of our Nissan Patrol vehicle with supplies that included: 100 kg of rice, 50 kg of lentils, 200 cans of fish (with openers), 200 packages of dried milk, 50 kg of sugar, 50 kg of onions, 10 liters of coconut oil (in 1/4 l. bottles), 240 bars of soap and 75 liters of bottled water plus the 4 of us making the trip. Needless to say we where traveling heavy!

"The Nissan Patrol performed admirably but is now in the shop with a broken rear spring! Hundreds of people are now eating and we will be returning in a week with a truck full of the now-known most-needed supplies. The psychological shock suffered by tens of thousands is starting to wear off and the realization and grieving for what was lost is starting to sink in. Most families have lost immediate members. Some families were totally wiped out. Very few were spared. The suffering and misery is like a thick fog you can smell, taste, see, hear and feel. It permeates everywhere, everything and everyone.

"This is the plan for now: I have adopted 1,059 families from the neediest areas. I am in the process of gathering supplies to give each family a parcel containing the following: 1 mosquito net; 2 to 3 blankets; 2 water resistant mats; kitchen utensils including a large pot for rice, a medium pot for lentils, cooking spoon and 2 plates; tooth paste, tooth brushes and soap; basic essential foods including rice, dhal, onions, oil, curry and chili powders, canned fish, milk powder; sugar and salt.

"I'm shooting high, as we have calculated that this will cost just over US$20 per family. I am more than halfway there with all the generous contributions from all of you and to keep it going, I have already put in nearly $4,000 of my own. This is "grass roots" type of support. Please spread the word, so more funds will come in. If we can collect more than is needed for this first step project I would then like to help with more permanent housing. My idea of helping the fishing folk has been stalled for lack of available boats. With 75-80% of the fishing fleet damaged or destroyed, simple non-motorized catamaran fishing boats are nearly impossible to secure. But I will not stop trying! I'm on a mission!"

To donate in support of Bleck's efforts, e-mail him for wiring instructions at bluefirelanka@hotmail.com

by Robert Weldon, G.G.

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