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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Earthquake In Haiti

It appears truly dire (Businessweek summary), and these people have flat nothing. Haiti was already suffering far more than usual with the economic problems and storm damage in recent years. People were starving, now many of the starving are injured, homeless, starving and dazed. Since it appears that some of the primary hospitals were wrecked, the situation could hardly get worse. But it will get worse without major help. The water supplies will be even more contaminated and whatever was left of the local economy will collapse.

I would encourage everyone to make a donation to an organization such as the Red Cross. I know times are really rough, but it's not so bad for anyone here as it is there. I usually give through Mercy Corps and I just did. Doctors Without Borders(MSF) has a presence in Haiti. Its hospital has been damaged but it will be continuing its effort and trying to expand it. That's another good candidate for a donation. OxFam has some people in the region and says it will be bolstering its efforts. There is a Red Cross in Haiti and local Red Cross organizations should be helping it. The American Red Cross has a warehouse in Panama and says it has released all its supplies there, but so far the American Red Cross has only allocated $200,000. It is collecting donations for Haiti; you can give $10 to the effort by texting HAITI to 90999.

The Anchoress suggests Food For The Poor, writing that they have a strong presence in the Caribbean and that their overhead is less than 3%. So if you give $100, at least $97 in aid should reach the suffering. Here is a page which lists the projects they had underway in Haiti already, and it is impressive! This or Doctors Without Borders might be the best bet. The organizations already on the ground are obviously hurting from damage, but will be the most effective long term.

It's going to take a lot. I realize that many people in the US are beginning to live much tighter (I was just looking at some data on cable drops) but not as tight as most people in Haiti. There you are middle class if you have $2 a day to live on. AJWS (American Jewish World Service) is mostly a grant-making organization, but it does have prior projects in Haiti and Lord knows money on the ground is needed. Here's a page about their prior projects in Haiti.

Donations of food or clothing are not going to be as useful as money. An explanation from CIDI. Mercy Corps usually flies in some supplies, but mostly it hires people and contracts for supplies locally. This supports the local economy and is an important part of relief operations.

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