Friday, January 15, 2010

How to Help Haiti Over the Coming Months

Many people have been asking how to help Haiti.  I've seen many sites with a variety of links to aid organizations, especially the Red Cross.  Although the Red Cross is a wonderful organization, I hesitate to recommend it for people who want to ensure their donations go directly to assist the Haitian people.  The reasons are two fold:  1) The Red Cross is a first responder organization.  This means they go in, do triage, then move on to the next disaster.  The Red Cross already has money in it's coffers from past donations.  According to Charity Navigator, the American Red Cross has over $2.5 billion in assets.  Most of the donations now going into the organization will take weeks to process and by the time it makes it's way to the "front line," they will have moved to the next disaster.  2) It is extremely difficult, if not impossible to get supplies into Port-au-Prince at this time.  Commercial flights have been suspended and the port has been damaged to the point that cargo cannot be off-loaded. 

However, there are organizations already on the ground in Haiti, with connections to the Dominican Republic.  An organization with a connection to the Dominican Republic is able to obtain supplies through the "back door"; that is, supplies can be purchased there and brought over land to where it's needed.  Partners in Health, founded by Dr. Paul Farmer, UN's Deputy Special Envoy for Haiti, is one such organization.  On Wednesday, PIH issued the following statement:

"We have already begun to implement a two-part strategy to address the immediate need for emergency medical care in Port-au-Prince. First, we are organizing the logistics to get the medical staff and supplies needed for setting up field hospital sites in Port-au-Prince where we can triage patients, provide emergency care, and send those who need surgery or more complex treatment to our functioning hospitals and surgical facilities. To do this, we are creating a supply chain through the Dominican Republic. Second, we are ensuring that our facilities in the Central Plateau are ready to serve the flow of patients from Port-au-Prince. Operating and procedure rooms are staffed, supplied, and equipped for surgeries and we have converted a church in Cange into a large triage area. Already our sites in Cange, Belladeres and Hinche are reporting a steady flow of people coming with medical needs from the capital city. In the days that come we will need to make sure our pharmacies and supplies stay stocked and our staff continue to be able to respond. Currently, our greatest need is financial support"

Another organization, Danita's Children, located in the border town of Ouanaminthe, Haiti, next to Dajabon, D.R., is mobilizing to receive additional orphans.  This organization needs financial assistance to allow them to make room for these children.  Their location on the border and their 10 year relationship with the officials in both countries allows them access to clean drinking water, food, clothing, and medical supplies necessary to care for the orphans.

Both Partners in Health and Danita's Children are efficiently run, reliable organizations that have received four stars from Charity Navigator, the highest rating.  I highly recommend these organizations for individuals looking fo a way to make a difference in the lives of Haitian people.

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