Happy Hour raises funds for relief efforts

Cyclone Nargis struck the Irrawaddy Delta region of Myanmar causing tens of thousands of deaths and leaving many more homeless. In the town of Bogaley, Doctors Without Borders distributed food and provided medical care to the people. (c) MSF

Local restaurants join in to raise funds for the international organization, Doctors Without Borders.

By Melonie Magruder / Special to The Malibu Times

In response to the recent natural disasters in Asia – in earthquake-torn China and in the cyclone-devastated Irrawaddy delta in Myanmar – Malibu Global Awareness is again calling for donations for Doctors Without Borders, the international aid organization and world’s first-responder to medical emergencies.

But MGA is taking some of the sting out of giving by enlisting Malibu’s best eateries to help. From July 15 – 20, participating restaurants will donate proceeds from their Happy Hours to Doctors Without Borders.

“We’re calling it ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream,’ MGA founder Dr. Annie Thiel said. “Because it’s a dream to have such wonderful local restaurants join us in raising funds for this worthy organization. Everyone who comes this week can feel good about contributing to this cause and they get an excellent meal out of it!”

Founded in 1971, Doctors Without Borders has provided emergency medical relief to victims of armed conflict, epidemics and natural disasters throughout the world.

A humanitarian organization that operates independently of any political or religious agenda, and which is funded purely through private donations, Doctors Without Borders won the 1999 Nobel Peace Prize.

Dr. Matthew Spitzer has worked in the field for Doctors Without Borders for several years and recently became president of the U.S. arm of the organization. He said Doctors Without Borders had already been operating in Myanmar with an HIV-AIDS prevention program, making it easier to get relief to the stricken population.

“We’ve been providing the most basic necessities,” Spitzer said. “Water and maybe just pots to boil it in, since lack of clean water is one of their biggest problems. Also, food and building materials for shelters.”

Already, four and a half million pounds of food have been distributed. One of the biggest problems, however, has had to do with psychosocial issues.

“One of our mental health experts said he arrived with food supplies to a town that had been totally wiped out,” Spitzer said. “An older woman there said she was thankful for the food, but she had lost all motivation to eat. The devastation was quite complete.”

Thiel said that local restaurants were quick to sign on to the fund-raising Happy Hours and that several local celebrities will be participating in the event, including actors Powers Booth, Katherine Ross and Catherine Oxenberg. The Malibu Rugby Team will also be lending a rousing presence. The fundraiser lasts through this weekend.

The list of participating restaurants can be found online at www.malibuglobalawareness.org