Fiji Times

SUVA, Fiji (Jan. 4) - In the chaos and devastation of countries in Asia after the tsunami on Boxing Day, one trend has emerged that has brought hope and comfort to the victims -- the spirit of giving.

Many stories have been published about the deaths of thousands of people in Asia and the destruction to the economies. Authorities believe the death toll could reach 200,000, a third of which could be children.

Millions have been displaced. Survival stories have also emerged. Miraculous events surrounding the survival of people have baffled and amazed relief workers.

The disaster has also brought people closer to God. People have turned to God for strength to survive their losses and for hope that their missing might still be alive and well.

However, what really stands out after the disaster has been the spirit of giving. It has bonded people living across vast oceans, people of different races to give without thought for personal benefit.

So far, the world has pledged or about $3.2 billion (US$2 billion). It is probably the world's largest relief effort to date.

In Fiji, close to $90,000 (US$54,756) has been raised in the two major nation-wide appeals -- The Fiji Times Tsunami Appeal and the Indian Ocean Earthquake/Tsunami Appeal managed by the Fiji Red Cross.

These funds have been given by people with ties to Asia as well as from others who have absolutely no family or business links to the contingent except with a deep desire to help people in need.

The spirit of giving displayed by all races in Fiji shows that people can put aside their cultural and racial differences and work together if they want to.

It shows that people can be generous when they want to. It shows that people can connect with the suffering of their neighbors in Asia.

It also shows that people in Fiji can rise above all the pettiness and focus on what’s important -- their ability and willingness to ease the suffering of other members of the human race.

If this type of thinking was applied to all facets of life in Fiji, 2005 will be the start of many good things to come. It shouldn't take a global disaster to bring people together.

As citizens of Fiji make personal resolutions for the New Year, they should also look at the bigger picture. In the words of JF Kennedy, people should look at what they can do for Fiji and her people.

Helping the poor and those in need and making a difference in your community, village or suburb will make 2005 a little better than 2004 not only in your part of the world but also in Asia.

January 4, 2005

Fiji Times Online: http://www.fijitimes.com/

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