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Two alumnia head Cambodian relief group



By Chitra K. Raman

Covering less than four square miles, Site 2 is the name given by the United Nations Border Relief Organization to the most heavily crowded Cambodian refugee camp in Thailand. An estimated 170,000 Cambodian survivors have lived here since the reign of Pol Pot, whose Khmer Rouge were said to have slaughtered millions of Cambodians during the years 1975-79. After Vietnam's 1979 invasion of Cambodia, the world was stunned to learn of the genocide that the Khmer Rouge had carried out and appalled by the human rights violations that took place during that regime. For these people who somehow survived the killing fields, their memories are far more traumatic than their worst nightmares. For years, relief workers have been providing mental health services as part of an overall campaign to guarantee human rights.

Poverty Solutions International, headed by Glenn Weinreb '86 and Glauco Ruesga '81, has been working directly with the Catholic Office for Emergency Relief and Refugees as well as the camp's refugee leadership to raise Site 2's standard of living. Recently, PSI has established a FAX link between the Khmer People's Depression Relief Unit at Site 2 and the Indochinese Psychiatry Clinic in Brighton, Massachusetts. This link up is the first of its kind, an essential lifeline of important medical information for the severely traumatized refugees. Once the refugees' basic needs have been taken care of, PSI will direct its attention to building a sense of community, according to Ruesga, executive director of PSI.

Founded by Weinreb in 1989, PSI is an independent, nonprofit Third World aid and development agency whose primary goal is to discern and eliminate the causes of poverty in Third World countries. Weinreb is a recent graduate of the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department and also serves as President of GW Instruments in Somerville, a Macintosh data acquisition company. Last year, GW Instruments diverted 17,000 in profits to get PSI on its feet.

The idea of forming PSI was a "post-school" one, according to Weinreb. However, Ruesga, who was a dorm tutor during Weinreb's undergraduate years, recalls that the two often discussed social issues at East Campus.

Q: What was the motivation behind PSI?


Q: What is the philosophy behind PSI?

A: Our programs will address not only the conditions of poverty --

Q: How is PSI different from other development agencies?


Q: What other programs is PSI sponsoring besides the one involving the Site 2 refugee camp?


Q: How is the organization funded?

A: I think it is a problem, however, that most people who tend to help Third World causes tend not to be business-oriented. They [the business community] can be more effective as they are more effective in building organizations, working with money, and things of that sort. GW Instruments continues to support PSI, but it would certainly be helpful if other companies were to help as well. -- Weinreb

Q: In closing, how do you hope to see PSI evolve, let's say, in the next five to ten years?


I think it is a problem ... that most people who tend to help Third World causes tend not to be business-oriented.

-- Weinreb->

We do not believe that development is a matter alone of helping the poor help themselves, for in practice this often involves foreign "experts" presumptuously deciding for a community of people what their needs are and how these need should be met. -- Ruesga