Countywide : Relief Group Aiding India Quake Victims

Barbara Piner has witnessed much human suffering in her 12 years as a fund-raiser for a county nonprofit India relief group.

But she said last week's deadly earthquake amounts to a new level of tragedy.

"They are a shattered people in this area," said Piner, a Costa Mesa resident who works as a middle school teacher in Fountain Valley. "The loss of family members has been difficult. . . . They need the confidence to keep on going."

Piner's nonprofit organization, American Service to India, is accepting donations that will go toward rebuilding the lives of quake victims.

The group is focusing resources less on emergency relief than on helping survivors move to less quake-prone areas. Relief officials also hope to build new quake-resistant housing.

"We are going beyond immediate relief," Piner said. The organization seeks to "build better living quarters than (the quake survivors) had before."

Resettlement activities are likely to be complicated by the fact that many survivors have farmed the area's agricultural lands for generations. When they are moved to safer land, the survivors will also have to be retrained for new jobs.

American Service to India is coordinating its relief effort with the Ramakrishna Mission in Bombay, which is able to quickly target disaster zones throughout India for supplies and resources.

American Service has been providing medical supplies and other items to India for more than a decade.

Donations can be made to ASTI Disaster Relief, P.O. Box 2456, Costa Mesa, Calif. 92628-2456.

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