Microsoft's global reach is being put to a different test as employees in South Asia and Redmond mobilize to support victims of the earthquake and tsunami.

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Microsoft’s global reach is being put to a different test as employees in South Asia and Redmond mobilize to support victims of the earthquake and tsunami.


Indian, Thai and other Asian employees have organized fundraising campaigns, including one in India that has employees donating a day’s salary to aid organizations. Microsoft is matching their contributions and making corporate donations as well, but organizers yesterday said they were not ready to provide a tally.


Aid organizations gave the company’s regional headquarters in Singapore a list of requests, including medical supplies and water purification tablets that were purchased and flown to Sri Lanka.


Several former employees are also raising money on their own, according to Akhtar Badshah, an international development expert the company hired in March to manage its global community investment program.


“Our response to some extent has been very immediate,” Badshah said. “Our subsidiaries, the minute the word got out the tsunami had hit and the earthquake had hit, mobilized themselves and identified local organizations they could work with.”


Badshah said the company is prepared to provide technical support, such as help with efforts to search and locate people, as well as cash and volunteers.


“We are waiting for initial systems to get put in place so we can go out there and help,” he said.


So far none of Microsoft’s 57,000 employees has been found to be casualties of the disaster, although the company is still trying to contact every one to be sure. None of its Asia business offices was damaged.


Current and former Microsoft employees are the largest donors to a fundraising campaign organized by Sulekha.com, an Indian community Web site. As of late Wednesday it had raised $73,500 for the Association for India’s Development’s relief efforts.


“We’re talking to everybody we know and sending email,” said Sita Vashee, wife of former Microsoft general manager Vijay Vashee, who together gave $10,000 to the campaign.


Microsoft has groups of employees from India, Sri Lanka and Thailand in Redmond that are also raising money to support relief efforts.


Thais at Microsoft, a group that represents roughly 50 Thai employees at the company, is raising donations that will be funneled through the Thai consulate in New York. The money will help deliver food, medical supplies and water, said organizer Thiti Wang-Aryattawanich, a program manager in the Office group.


Last month he was staying in a hotel that was wiped out by the tsunami, and he fears it will take a long time for the economy and ecology of the lush tropical region to recover.


“This is like a hell on paradise,” he said.


Brier Dudley: 206-515-5687 or bdudley@seattletimes.com