Background on the 2004 Tsunami in Southeast Asia

On December 26th, 2004, one of the deadliest tsunamis in history barreled onto the shores of Southeast Asia, killing thousands of people in eleven countries in a single day. As the day of destruction drew to a close, 150,000 were dead or missing. Millions more were newly homeless.

The tsunami or killer wave was generated by a 9.0-scale earthquake under the Indian Ocean near the west coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The quake caused 50-foot waves in some areas and in others, extremely destructive flooding occurred. In other areas, the tsunami made landfall as a torrent of foaming water. Witnesses said the approaching tsunami sounded like “three freight trains” or the roar of a jet.

By the end of the day, the ocean calmed. But the trouble was just beginning. Millions of people were faced with the reality that tens of thousands of others were dead or missing. In addition to the loss of loves ones, homes, schools, hospitals and staples of daily life were shattered. Food and clean water were scarce, and with open wounds and dead bodies in the tropical heat, the risk of famine and epidemic disease was extremely high.

The scope of destruction touched the international community, which responded with an outpouring of support for the people in Indonesia. The world gave around $500 million in aid throughout the countries affected by the tsunami. Never ones to sit on the sidelines, the young people of Do Something knew it was time to act.

As American kids enjoyed the winter holidays with their families, they could not ignore the fact that children in Southeast Asia were seeing their lives torn apart and families destroyed. On December 29th, 2004, Do Something staffers and YAC launched an emergency call to action: the Do Something Kid's Tsunami Relief Fund. Do Something identified five relief projects to rebuild Asian youth and communities affected most by the tragedy.

So what did Members do?

Getting the word out: Here at, we know how effective the internet and media can be as tools to raise awareness. CNN, ABC, Fox News, Nickelodeon, and MTV all featured Do Something’s Tsunami Relief efforts, and helped to get more people on board (like GM, who donated two cars to the relief projects!).

Fundraising initiatives: Across the U.S., kids hosted bake sales, movie nights, sold bracelets, held loose change drives, and sold hot chocolate to raise money for the Kids Tsuanmi Relief Fund. On February 9th, these Do-er’s held hot chocolate stands at schools, malls, bus stops and train stations across the nation for the fund.

Beat France: One Do-er, Jake Mazza, was disappointed with France’s puny initial pledge of $136,000 to tsunami relief and vowed to raise more money than the French government gave (FYI: Ultimately, France gave over 30 million in aid, but a little competitive fundraising never hurt anyone!) So Jake combed his Dad’s Rolodex for donors, and raised almost $150,000!

The Do Something generation wowed the world, raising $437,325.71 in total. But they didn’t stop there, they wanted to make sure that their Kids Tsunami Relief Fund didn’t go just anywhere. Do Something joined forces with some great organizations, like Architecture for Humanity, Adopt a Doctor, Asha for Education, USINDO as well as local relief organizations to put our money towards the reconstruction of schools and the building of medical clinics and children’s camps in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and India. After kids gave their input through the site's poll, it was decided that the money would go to five main projects:

  1. Helping Architecture for Humanity to build the Al Ashraff School in Pottuvil, Sri Lanka and a medical clinic in Kirinda, Sri Lanka
  2. Sarvodaya Shramadana Child Trauma therapy at camps and pre-schools in Sri Lanka
  3. Jeevarathinam Nursery and Primary School in India
  4. IBU Clinic in Indonesia
  5. USINDO’s Lab School in Indonesia