Interview: Earthquake in Syria and Turkey – How to help responsible

The Munich based Radio Station M95/5, as many other media these days dealt with the terrible earthquake in Syria and Turkey. It also asked the question of which organizations one should support. Dennis Safir conducted an interview about this topic with Wadi’s managing director Thomas v. der Osten-Sacken


You can listen to the whole interview in German here, following some translated excerpts:

Dennis Safir: “I spoke to the managing director of the NGO Wadi, Thomas von der Osten-Sacken, about what one should find out before making a donation. In his opinion, you should ask yourself the following questions before:

Is there reasonable accountancy? Are there project reports and comprehensible reports on what is being done on site? Does the organization have either know-how in the country or the professional background?

Money alone is not enough. It is important that the helpers are also professionals, because without the necessary knowledge, aid organizations are neither helpful nor organized.

You can find out something like that on the website of the aid organizations. It is important that you do not let yourself be guided by the first impulse. Aid organizations often play with emotions that are aroused by shocking images.

Therefore Thomas v. der Osten-Sacken advises: “I always tell people when I’m asked: Use your donation responsibly! Don’t let the first affects overwhelm you. No: ‘Oh, I have to do something immediately, because there is a terrible catastrophy unfolding’ Dont’t do that, but look at their homepage, be critical. Ultimately, in a capitalist world, help should also be treated like a product. And when I buy a new mobile phone, I also get all the information I need.”

DS: So it’s important to remain critical and to research the background of aid organizations. (…) It is also important that, in case deliveries and aid do not arrive, it often has nothing to do with a lack of donations. In truth, there is a logistical problem behind it.

TvdO-S “At the moment there is often the wrong conclusion: You hear on the radio that no help has arrived in the city of XY. But that is usually a logistical problem, not a money problem. But you think if I donate a hundred euros now, then the help will arrive in the city of XY, because I just heard on the radio that nothing has arrived yet. You don’t realize what kind of logistical apparatus is required for something like this to work.”

DS: “So I’ll summarize again: Before you donate, you should make sure of the following things: firstly, the organization discloses its finances, secondly, it provides specific information about its projects and their progress, thirdly, the helpers are properly trained and fourthly, the organization also disposes about the necessary logistical infrastructure and know-how on site”.