Science - January 13, 2005

Grants for students from disaster area

Wageningen UR will give grants to students from countries affected by the tsunami. And a committee headed by IAC director Dr Bram Huijsman will make an inventory of how Wageningen expertise can best be used for helping to rebuild the disaster areas.

The Executive Board made its decision last week. ‘We are not the organisation to give money. We have decided we can best concentrate on our core-business, delivering expertise and knowledge. Therefore we have asked a working group to make an inventory of how we can best contribute to reconstruction.’ In addition, students from the affected areas who want to return home will receive financial assistance for their travel and living costs. Bram Huijsman expects to have the inventory ready next week, and has already received proposals from the different sciences groups.

No students or employees of Wageningen UR fell victim to the earthquake and tsunami. A&F employee Walter van Doorn had a few dicey moments. He was on the beach of the island Kho Phi Phi in Thailand when the disaster struck, but survived the tidal wave. Van Doorn was on unpaid leave and working temporarily for a Thai university. A student who was near the area hit in Sri Lanka on the day of the disaster has now returned to the Netherlands. Researcher Dr Thea Hilhorst, who works in the Disaster Studies group, and student Marijgje Wijers, who did thesis research there, both visited Sri Lanka after the event.

A number of Wageningen student organisations are planning to collect money for the victims. On Wednesday 26 January, exactly a month after the disaster, students will form a human chain around the centre of Wageningen. The gesture is intended to make it clear that Wageningen wants to embrace the victims of the tsunami in Asia and Africa. The action is being organised by the study organisation for international land and water management, Nitocra, the student union WSO and the university.

Student clubs SSR-W, KSV and Ceres will also participate in the day’s activities. They are at present trying to get bands to give free performances in the cafes in the centre of Wageningen. Passes allowing entry to all bands will be sold, and the proceeds will go to Giro 555, the national appeal fund for the victims. ‘We want to show that students here are not just beer drinkers, but also socially involved,’ said Joran Klingman of KSV. Youth organisation Unitas has decided that its Goa-trance party planned for 22 January will be a benefit event. / KV, YdH

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