When all we can do is wait

Relatives of the passengers of AirAsia flight QZ8501 wait for news at Juanda International Airport in Indonesia.

Story highlights

  • What can we do when there is no way to help?
  • A missing plane and a sinking ferry makes us want to try to"do something"
  • If you know of ways to help, tweet us @CNNImpact

(CNN)It's a gut wrenching quandary we face at CNN Impact too often.

The mission of Impact Your World, and our motto, is "change the story." Not only do we bring you the latest news on all CNN's platforms, but where possible, we provide ways on the network and on CNN.com/impact to get involved and to donate to help those whose stories we tell.
Only, sometimes we can't.
    A missing plane, a sinking ferry, a random act of violence -- whether it's in your state, half way across the country or the other side of the world, these tragedies appear on your phone, at work, in your living room. You feel powerless, and so -- frequently -- do we.
    The instinct is to help. Unfortunately, sometimes effective ways to help are hard to come by.
    It's often while situations are still developing and CNN's coverage is the most in depth that the desire to impact is strongest.
    Images of the family members of passengers on Asia Air 8501, sobbing and desperate for news are heart wrenching. The families of passengers on the burning ferry pleading for rescuers to work faster, fill us all with sadness, horror and sympathy. They make us wonder: "What if it were my child, my mother, my husband? How can I help?"
    Frustratingly, it is often when stories are still evolving that the answer -- too frequently -- is that all we can do is wait. We don't know when or whether people will be found, or what medical outcomes will be. We wish we did.
    Sometimes, ways to help are part of a bigger picture. When schoolgirls are kidnapped by a militant group, it is in the hands of the governments to get them out, and all we can do is wait. But to help stop it from ever happening again, we can provide links to connect you with organizations working to overcome barriers to education for girls worldwide.
    We may not be able to stop children from being recruited as soldiers by armed militias, but we can connect you with UNICEF who is working to end the participation of children in armed conflict.
    Often we rely on you. We don't always know about how you are working to raise funds, raise awareness, volunteer or get involved. But we want to know, so keep us in the loop by tweeting @cnnimpact.
    Sometimes the best way to get involved is to stay informed, aware, ask questions? Imagine if it were your child or parent spouse that was in harms way and ask "Could the response be improved?"
    At CNN, our first jon is to bring you all the facts, provide context and keep everyone involved honest. Armed with this information, we hope you'll decide just how you want to impact your world.
    But when tragedies unfold, there will be times when all anyone can do is wait.