Over 37 million crowns, or over 1.2 million euros, that's how much Czechs have raised so far in individual donations to help the stricken countries in South Asia. Most of the money has been gathered on the accounts of various aid agencies. Also, the Czech passion for sending SMS text messages from their mobile phones has been used for a good purpose.
Of the 37 million crowns raised by Monday morning, the largest share was collected by the Czech branch of the international aid organisation ADRA which had opened a special mobile phone number where people could donate money by sending an SMS text message from their mobile phones. Czechs confirmed their fondness for SMS's when by Monday morning they had sent almost half a million donor SMS messages to ADRA which amounts to approximately 13.5 million crowns. I asked Vitezslav Vurst from ADRA's Prague headquarters how they were going to spend the money.
"We are going to use the money in two stages. Around a quarter of the amount will be spent on early relief - food, hygienic products and vitamins. The remaining three quarters of the sum will go to long-term projects. We are planning to renovate schools and give children and young people access to education and a chance to live normal lives again."
Apart from Thailand, ADRA also plans to start projects in Indonesia. Sri Lanka is in the focus of another Czech aid agency, People In Need, that has so far raised around 10 million crowns. The Catholic charity Caritas Czech Republic has collected over 5 million, the Czech Red Cross has raised 2 million crowns and the Czech branch of UNICEF has almost 1.5 million crowns.
A fundraising rock concert will be held in Prague on Sunday whose proceeds will be donated to the Indonesian Embassy.
The money keeps adding up on the charities' accounts. For example, ADRA is receiving one donor SMS message every second. ADRA's Vitezslav Vurst has been overwhelmed by the response.
"I must say I am very excited and I'd like to thank all donors. It is absolutely spontaneous and extraordinary. I've been in contact with ADRA's chapters abroad and it seems that the Czech keenness on donor SMS messages is unmatched in Europe."
Although the state deducts nineteen percent VAT from each SMS message, Mr Vurst says his agency is pushing for the subtracted sum to be used for its originally intended purpose.
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