Why We're Doing This
Regional Relief has 7 core beliefs behind our work
#1 - The lives of people everywhere matter.
The pandemic has shown us that we are all susceptible to infection. Recognising our shared vulnerability and mortality prompts us to broaden our definition of who ‘our people’ are.
#2 - People have many homes and belong to multiple communities.
For some of us, our university towns, our places of birth, and our home countries are different. Yet, we feel a belonging to each place, and its people, in different ways. This motivates us to help all who are suffering, regardless of nationality.
#3 - There’s a lot you can do in your country of residence, that you can’t do elsewhere.
From donating and forming support groups for those in your neighbourhood, to making your voice heard about your government’s response to the pandemic, the options open to you to make a difference locally are inarguably more diverse. Unless you’re an expert in health, policy or a related field, there’s little besides donating that you can do overseas.
#4 - There are some countries where donations can do a lot more good.
The needs of communities in some parts of the region are clearly more dire. Your dollar doesn’t buy the same amount of rice everywhere. Not every country has a shortage of Personal Protective Equipment. Make your dollar go the extra mile.
#5 - You don't have to think of it as zero-sum.
There’s a tendency to think of your donation as taking place in a vacuum; the idea that if you give to someone overseas, you deprive your fellow citizen of that donation. In reality, we exist in communities. The ‘gap’ left by your donation locally, especially if you’re from an affluent country, is likely to be filled. On the margin, a dollar donated to less affluent countries can do a lot more good.
#6 - We rely on wider communities than we realise.
Supply chain disruption has proved that no country ever lived alone. We have always been and will continue to be dependent on people we will never meet or see. Getting out of this pandemic alone is the same as not getting out of it at all.
#7 - The outcome of the pandemic is not predetermined.
Amidst the doom and gloom of epidemic curves and models, there is a ray of light. You. Flattening curves, stamping out disease and getting society back on its feet are not passive processes. Every one of us can play a part in shaping a better tomorrow.
It is with these ideas in mind that some of us have planned our donating and volunteering. We believe in donating 30% of the amount we’ve set aside for charity to local efforts, backed with the kind of volunteering and support we can only provide locally. 70% goes overseas, split amongst causes we feel really need help. These numbers and ideas are guides that we developed in trying to think through a problem that has no clear answer. We only hope it’ll be helpful to those who find themselves in similar positions.
Who We're Working With
CUSEAS is an intellectual, non-partisan forum committed to facilitating cross-disciplinary academic dialogue on Southeast Asia. We host a diverse range of speakers from many disciplines whose experiences and research touches on Southeast Asia, and aim to provide a space for Cambridge graduates and students of Southeast Asia to come together and share their interests and research. We also aim to build this website up into a links and resource hub of scholarly, bibliographic and contemporary information on Southeast Asia.
BridgeBurma, is a passion project created by a group of Burmese college students studying abroad who wanted to give back to their country. BridgeBurma works to help people stay connected, and to facilitate the sharing of their knowledge with the people back home, thus counteracting the brain drain effect. Keeping the experience and talent pool of the seniors “plugged in” will not only allow students in Myanmar to seek counsel from their seniors, but also for talents to seek out other talents from their home country on this platform.
SHAPE-SEA was Launched in February 2015 in Bangkok, Thailand, as a collaboration between two academic networks based in Southeast Asia: AUN-HRE (30 member universities) and SEAHRN (22 members). SHAPE-SEA aims to contribute to the improvement of the human rights and peace situation in ASEAN/Southeast Asia through applied research and education.
The ASEAN Youth Forum (AYF) is a movement that represents and fights for the young people in ASEAN to voice out their concerns and strategies for ways to achieve a better ASEAN. AYF has been a platform of youth in the ASEAN to raise their voice and claim for their rights for a sustainable, inclusive, people-centered, and youth-driven regional community.
JOLT Philippines is a page dedicated to inspiring change and convincing everyone that Just One Little Thing can make a big difference.
The Institute of Human Rights is an academic legal resource institute that puts the protection and promotion of human rights at the center of its work. This covers a wide spectrum of issues such as political, civil, economic, social, and cultural rights of people. It especially devotes attention to the needs of minority groups such as those coming from indigenous cultural communities and those coming from the lower brackets of the socio-economic divide (i.e. peasantry, laborers, urban poor, etc.) and non-traditional areas (e.g. climate change, transitional justice).
VolunTeaching works to close the gap between the school and the scholar by offering students access to e-learning videos hosted by certified volunteachers.
In the age of Internet of Things (IoT), #SpreadLoveNotFear is a virtual movement to promote diversity, solidarity, and inclusion from global citizenship to global netizenship. Currently in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, information overload increasingly diminished the importance of information itself.
The movement revolves around empowering internet users to share critical information – specifically about the COVID-19 pandemic at this point of time – in a positive, respectful and compassionate way.
We’d like to thank all our listed partners for their generous support and guidance.
There are some individuals we’d like to thank in particular:
Yang Berhormat Khairunnisa binti Haji Ash’ari for her help in explaining Brunei’s response to COVID-19
Maggi Quadrini for helping us liaise and coordinate with charities in Myanmar
Mael Raynaud, Matt Walsh and Thinzar Shunlei Yi for their help in getting us in touch with organisations in Myanmar
Eunice Barbara Novio, Mr. Daovone Phonemanichane, Dr. Noikaseumsy Sithivong for their help with contacting organisations in Laos
Tania Nguyen, Celso Fonseca and Joel Mark Barredo for their help and references
Our friends, Stephenie, Iris, Shawn and Zi An for providing really detailed feedback on initial versions of the website.
Who We Are
I'm Clara-Ann, an undergraduate studying engineering. While I'm not figuring out how to make things move, I'm working with Regional Relief because I want to move my hands and feet (in these days, just my fingers on a keyboard) to help where I can!
I'm Saad, a 2nd year undergraduate at the University of Cambridge and founder of Regional Relief. I care deeply about what people in more comfortable situations can do for friends and neighbours in the region. There are many really great community COVID relief initiatives that need funds and support and I hope RR can serve as a platform to bring these important causes to more people's attention.
Ruoh Wen Cheong
Ruoh Wen is a second-year Phys Natsci at Trinity Hall, specialising in (bio)chemistry. She has chronic wrist pain from tracing things in Photoshop and/or GIMP.
I am currently studying Illustration and Game Design at Maryland Institute College of Arts. Regional Relief sounded like a great idea, so i figured that this would be the best way to help out using my current skill set.
I want to do something about the COVID-19 pandemic that helps address the immediacy of the crisis and builds towards longer-term solutions. RR is really an opportunity to help charities which are helping people get by on a day-to-day basis, while also acting on the belief that we work better when we work together as a region, and that travel restrictions now cannot and should not mean that we close our hearts to others. Southeast Asia is already very tightly integrated as a region and we can definitely feel the impact of border restrictions, so we really will have to overcome the crisis as a region in order for any of us to have a meaningful recovery.
Chua Fang En
I am a 2nd year Sociology and Social Anthropology student in the University of Cambridge. Being part of the Southeast Asian society at my university and a citizen of Southeast Asia, Regional Relief is a meaningful way for me to learn more about the region while contributing to efforts to combat COVID-19. I believe in a stronger Southeast Asia and Regional Relief is part of that vision to me.
Nikhil Dutt Sundaraj
Hi everyone, I'm Nikhil and I'm a graduating law student at Cambridge. I have worked on numerous charitable initiatives and community involvement projects in the past and strive to use my legal training to help people and communities in need, especially in Singapore and Southeast Asia.
I'm Yi Ning, an incoming PhD candidate in political theory at Harvard University and a volunteer with Regional Relief. As someone's who's lived in two Southeast Asian countries and has had the privilege of visiting two others, I find it necessary to confront how the prosperity of some parts of the region is built upon the poverty of others. I hope RR can be a way to amplify ongoing relief efforts and motivate Southeast Asians to care about one another in this hour of need and beyond it.