Concert for Asia: Contributing on a large scale

- January 31, 2005

Regala and Evans
Armando Regala (left) and Richard Evans proudly show a cheque for over $103,000 to the Concert for Asia audience.

For many of us, seeing the aftermath of the tsunami in Asia has prompted us to think more about people in other parts of the world, and to contribute to relief efforts in any way we can. Two members of the Dalhousie community have contributed on a large scale, helping to organize Concert for Asia. This lively and successful fundraiser for Oxfam Canada's relief activities took place on January 11 at the Halifax Metro Centre.

Just retired in December 2004 from his post as employee benefits administrator after 27 years at Dalhousie (starting at the former TUNS), Armando Regala planned to keep busy as chair of the Centre for Diverse Visible Cultures board in Halifax. But he became much busier than expected when the Centre teamed up with Halifax-based band MIR to organize Concert for Asia. Regala helped oversee concert organization, and also set up bank accounts for monies raised. He was then chosen to appear on stage, to present a cheque for all the funds raised through the concert, totalling more than $103,000.

"It's not an everyday experience," says Regala. "Presenting a donation of that size, it makes me feel humble that I was involved in getting such a thing done, and that it may make a little dent in the effort to provide assistance in such a devastating situation." Through the Centre for Diverse Visible Cultures, he expects to remain involved in tsunami relief, possibly helping families affected by the tsunami to settle in the Halifax area.

crowd at Metro Centre
Concert-goers show their support for tsunami victims.

There to receive the cheque on behalf of Oxfam Canada was Richard Evans, chair of the national board of Oxfam Canada and associate professor of law at Dalhousie.

From Evans' perspective, the concert, organized in just six and a half days, was the result of diverse communities coming together. "It was a real collaboration between different volunteers, musicians, backstage people, and corporate organizers," he remarks. "It was fascinating how parts of the community came together, parts that don't come together often."

He also points out that Dalhousie's presence was evident at the concert. "I asked [emcee] Shaun Majumder to make a point of mentioning my Dalhousie connection when he introduced me," he says. "A big cheer came out of the audience when he did!"

Evans explains that funds raised through the concert will help with immediate needs like water, sewage treatment, and shelter materials, as well as transportation to get the items where they're needed. In the medium and long term, Oxfam staff and partners will play a key role in the massive reconstruction efforts.

Although the devastation in Asia has sparked a dramatic outpouring of support, Evans reminds us to look beyond the headlines. "We're very anxious that the world's attention not be diverted from other situations, and that there should be increased attention to equally grave problems elsewhere," he says. "It's important that we support a whole range of international development needs on a long term basis."


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