The news about the earthquake in Haiti came as a shock to all of us, and we're all deeply saddened by the lives lost and the destruction that occurred. For me, it was certainly one of those things where I didn't immediately realize the gravity of the events until a few hours after I had heard the news, when the facts that I had been absorbing all began to sink in: A 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti. An estimated 3 million people have been affected and the death toll is somewhere around 50,000. Port Au Prince was essentially completely destroyed.
And as the facts, and stories, and photos, and news reports began to sink in and my heart sunk to my stomach, my immediate thoughts were "How do I help?", "What can I do?"...
So I did some research on how you can help those affected in Haiti (and I wish I could go help out in Haiti, but right now monetary donations are the most effective way to help):
- Donating to the International Committee of the Red Cross (http://www.icrc.org/web/eng/siteeng0.nsf/html/helpicrc) -- Yes, this is different than the American Red Cross. The ICRC is the global organization of the Red Crosses and Red Crescent organizations, and the only country-neutral Red Cross organization in the world (they're based out of Switzerland, and were founded at the Geneva Convention). They're neutrality mandate means that they never criticize governments, which means they can often be more effective in getting into countries to help in disasters like the one in Haiti. In addition, the ICRC has worked in Haiti for many years. Their website is also a great source for news (www.icrc.org).
- Donating to the United Nations Development Programme (https://secure.globalproblems-globalsolutions.org/site/Donation2?idb=1649881960&df_id=1240&1240.donation=form1)
The UNDP site is also a great place for news on the quake and relief efforts being made. http://content.undp.org/go/newsroom/2010/january/in-focus-haiti.en
- Donating to Oxfam International (http://www.oxfam.org/en/getinvolved/donate). Oxfam has additionally has had a presence in Haiti in the past and have people on the ground there. They are a well reputed international institution (based out of the UK) and have been doing disaster relief and providing international aid for many years.
- Donating to Doctors without Borders (better known as Medcins Sans Frontieres or MSF). They are also a global organization that has been assisting people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe. Besides the Red Cross, they are probably one of the most reputed international institutions providing medical aid around the world.
- Texting HAITI from any cell phone to 90999 will automatically donate $10 to the American Red Cross for relief efforts (The American Red Cross is a good organization to donate to, and they already have people in Haiti helping out).
-Texting YELE to 501501 from any cell phone will automatically donate $5 to Wyclef Jean's foundation to help those in Haiti.
Here is an article with many more good organizations to donate to:
Here are some links to good news sources for information on Haiti:
- The New York Times' Haiti Page on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/NYTimesHaiti?v=wall
- Global Disaster Relief's Page on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DisasterRelief?ref=sgm
- The UNDP's Youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/undp#p/u/0/8QHm731dEsA
- BBC's online website: www.bbc.co.uk
The different organizations to donate to that are helping in Haiti seem to be endless, but every little bit will help. Under the Baobab Tree's hearts and thoughts go out to every single person that was affected by the quake on January 12th.