Bush Launches Fundraising Drive for Tsunami Victims



President Bush has launched a nationwide fundraising effort to encourage private contributions for relief groups helping those affected by the devastating earthquake and tsunami in the Indian Ocean.

President Bush says the new fundraising effort will be led by two former presidents, his father, George Herbert Walker Bush, and the last president from the Democratic Party, Bill Clinton.

Accompanied by the two men in the White House Roosevelt Room, Mr. Bush said he is grateful to the former presidents for taking on such an important responsibility.

"In the coming days, President Clinton and Bush will ask Americans to donate directly to reliable charities already providing help to tsunami victims," the president said. "Many of these organizations have dispatched experts to the disaster area and they have an in-depth understanding of the resources required to meet the needs on the ground."

President Bush says Americans are already showing their generosity through contributions to aid groups. He hopes this new effort targeting both individuals and corporations will further complement official U.S. assistance.

"From our own experiences, we know that nothing can take away the grief of those affected by tragedy," he said. "We also know that Americans have a history of rising to meet great humanitarian challenges and of providing hope to suffering peoples. As men and women across the devastated region begin to rebuild, we offer our sustained compassion and our generosity and our assurance that America will be there to help."

President Bush last week promised $350 million in U.S. government assistance for affected countries. That is ten times the $35 million that Washington initially pledged.

That first amount drew some criticism, considering the size and wealth of the United States when compared to other countries' contributions. There was also some criticism of the president himself for not cutting short his Texas vacation and returning to Washington.

Now back at the White House, President Bush is starting the first week of the year with a big push on tsunami relief efforts. He has dispatched a U.S. delegation to the region led by Secretary of State Colin Powell and the president's brother, Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

After launching the new fundraising effort, President Bush and former presidents Bush and Clinton visited the embassies of India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand to sign condolence books for those killed.

In an interview with NBC television, President Clinton says the Sri Lankan ambassador told them of an airstrip covered in crates where one of the challenges now is distributing aid that has already arrived. President Clinton says that is why cash contributions are often more useful.

"If you give money, even if it is a small amount of money, it will aggregate up," the former president said. "They will send it to the aid agencies on the ground and then they will spend it right there for what is most needed. And you won't have to worry about the cost and the time delay of physically getting other things overseas."

Both former presidents say they are in this fundraising effort for the long haul and hope Americans realize that any amount of assistance, no matter how small, will help someone somewhere.

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs