Sara writes from Thailand
Recent alumna shares perspective in tsunami’s aftermath
Sara Schonhardt, BSJ '03, traveled to Hua Hin, near Bangkok, Thailand, a few months after she graduated from Ohio University in June 2003. Her internship with Asia Times Online, a news journal with correspondents all over the world, transitioned to a full-time position. Perhaps you have gotten to know her through her Letters from Sara column that has appeared on Ohio Today Online since the fall of 2003. Here, she shares some thoughts in the aftermath of the Dec. 26 tsunami that ravaged the Indian Ocean region.
Let me begin by wishing you all a happy New Year. I was away from the places where the tsunami struck and have returned home safely to Hun Hin from my weeklong trip to Cambodia.
I was touched by the outpouring of concern that I received from many friends regarding me, my friends and those affected by the disaster, and I was moved by those who offered to help.
At the time of the disaster, I had several friends vacationing in Krabi, Thailand, an island just east of the hard-hit resort area of Phuket. I’m happy to say they are all safe and well and were able to recount some of the destruction that took place down south. Cleanup efforts began almost immediately, and relatively speaking, Thailand is likely to emerge from this tragedy much better off than so many other places in the region. The country has become the hub of the relief effort and people are working hard to distribute aid to the hardest-hit areas.
I know it is difficult to be positive as you watch the death toll rise by thousands each day, but here, at least, people have slowly begun the process of piecing their lives back together. Nevertheless, the death and destruction is tragic indeed.
For those of you who have asked about donations, I would recommend sending money or any other type of aid to a large, transnational, nongovernmental organization such as the Red Cross. Sadly, local governments are coming under scrutiny for not spending money on the relief effort appropriately. In addition, places like India, Sri Lanka and Aceh, Indonesia -- already steeped in poverty before the tsunami -- are in far more dire need of contributions than Thailand.
I’ll leave you with a parting thought about the people who have become my friends and neighbors since I arrived in Thailand shortly after graduating from OU in June 2003: “If a Thai man owns two shirts, he will give away both to the victims.” -- A returning Swede praising the kindness of the Thai people.
Past Letters from Sara
The Asia Times, where Sara works