Cover Story: Lives in the Balance
Debra Neuman is on intimate terms with the tsunami that devastated southern Asia in December 2004. Just as you would never refer to a friend as “the Bill” or “the Mary,” she calls the killer storm simply “tsunami” — no preceding article — as though the word should be spelled with a capital T.
It’s unnerving at first, but it makes sense. The storm killed thousands of people in an area where a few expensive resorts stood out among large patches of widespread poverty like diamonds set against a backdrop of pitch. As senior vice president of external relations for CARE USA, an organization that works exclusively with “the poorest of the poor” around the world, Neuman was keenly aware of the developing needs of storm victims and worked with her staff to raise funds to meet those needs. She certainly doesn’t consider the tsunami a friendly force, but it reached deep into the heart of the organization that employs her.