This has been weighing heavy on my heart. Reading MSNBC and other news reports. Seeing the pictures. I am from the Caribbean though not from Haiti. There are friends and acquaintances who have relatives in Haiti. This past week has been more than a little difficult for them. Trying to contact family. Trying to find ways down there. I also find myself reflecting on the history of Haiti. It's place in the history of civil rights for people of African descent and civil rights for all people. It's hard not to feel a little depressed.
For those who are interested in contributing to relief being sent to Haiti, I would recommend Oxfam-America. The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee list it as a resource. Both are sending earthquake relief to Haiti.
CharityWatch gave Oxfam-America an A- rating and the organization is among their Top-Rated.
The links below from the Better Business Bureau and Charity Navigator give more in depth information on the UUSC's charity work.
Other suggestions on ways to aid Haiti posted here would be great.
I just wanted to chime in on this.
I made a conscious decision to not donate any money to this because historically in the recent past (for example the 2005 Tsunamis, or was that 2006?) there has been more than enough money donated to aid catastrophe, and anything that is donated IN THE NAME of a particular event can ONLY be used toward aid to that event even if there is extra (this is how it works with the Red Cross, at least).
The biggest limitation with regard to emergency aid is in logistics and personnel. There is only so much that can physically be done within the limitations of time and space constraints. So, while it sucks for the people who have experienced injury and loss in a given situation, throwing more and more money at it is only effective up to a certain point with respect to alleviating the existential suffering that is taking place.
Having said that, I do intend to earmark a certain dollar amount that I "would" donate to remediate this tragedy and give it to the International Fund for Animal Welfare, whence I have not donated for some time. The reasoning for this is because first, they are international and that reflects the international nature of the Haiti earthquake tragedy. Second, there are many people who will be moved to donate to the Red Cross or wherever on behalf of this earthquake who would not normally do so on an every-day basis (not to toot my own horn, but I DO do my part year-round on a daily basis for that which I have taken upon myself). Third, animal charities are among the neediest and most under-appreciated organizations but they happen to be important to me, and that is where I choose to allocate my limited resources.
By no means am I implying that anyone reading this should NOT support Raven's call to assistance. However, every time there is some major "humanitarian" tragedy, it serves to underscore the many other "small" day-to-day sufferings that tend to go unnoticed and under-addressed.
Give in the way that seems best
I agree with you about logistics and personnel, YGirl.
The fact that there is only one airstrip and not enough room for several planes to land in Port-au-Prince is definitely a serious logistics issue when it comes to delivering aid by air. It takes 5 hours to get from the airport in Santo Domingo in D.R. to Port-au-Prince by land. And that's when the roads are good. At the moment, the estimate is a full day.
Thankfully other avenues (like the sea) are being used as well. A floating naval hospital was sent. Logistics and personnel may be a limitation but not one that is insurmountable. Many are being helped even in the wake of so many lives lost.
The nature of aid which is sent is not limited to cash. Cash doesn't always have the greatest impact either depending on how it is used. I linked to an organization which is involved in several different methods of humanitarian aid with a global reach. Donations of money is but one way. I don't think I highlighted money in my post but I'll double check.
How people choose to contribute is a personal decision based on their desire and their capability to do so. Whether it is done year round or only at certain moments. Some are unable to contribute in one way so they choose another. Showing that there are alternatives is helpful. Some are unable to contribute at all because of the hard conditions of their own lives.
The mindset that some suffering is "small" is indeed a sad one. Suffering is simply suffering. It affects perhaps a small or large amount of people. Though hey, if it's about a billionaire losing several million, I have trouble qualifying that as suffering at all personally. My mind goes to the recession, the roles played in the recession, and the suffering those parts played, caused people across the nation and worldwide.
I often see attention drawn to suffering outside of the U.S. and suffering within the U.S. ignored. The idea usually is that the U.S. doesn't have humanitarian issues. Greatest country in the world. Rah rah and all that crap.
Haiti's people had been experiencing ongoing problems before this tragedy hit, which in turn may have made the earthquake harder to handle than it would have been otherwise. Similarly the areas of New Orleans which were hardest hit were already experiencing hardships. These day to day issues are not generally the focus of the mainstream. I've also thought for a while that these things are unnoticed and under-addressed.
Regardless of where they are, I do feel drawn to reach out to human beings who are struggling to live life. I believe that all living things are sacred including animals. However, people have a significant impact (creative or destructive) on this Earth, which includes all of it's creatures. Wreaking havoc and seeking to rectify. It is even people again who are running animal charities. While human beings can make a huge difference in the suffering and substandard living conditions animals may have, I don't see animals having a reciprocal affect on human beings. Animals can't create charities or lobby in the government or send aid for the environment or to humans in need large or small.
How I contribute my resources would then go in the order I see the greatest positive impact being made for the entire Earth as a whole.
And that is all I could ever ask others to do as well, in whichever way seems best to them. Whether that is in helping in this disaster or the ongoing disasters which some call life.
Another operation worthy of consideration is Doctors without Borders.
The medical needs of the whole area were lacking to begin with and will be that much more critical in the next 6-12 months. Beyond initial casualties, because of the food & sanitation issues that will continue to be present, medical care will be an ongoing challenge.
I would be more inclined to give to Doctors Without Borders than the Red Cross. I did some work with the Red Cross during Katrina and had some pretty bad experiences with their organization. Plus Doctors Without Borders has already been in Haiti for some time and already has an established operation.
My first teaching job was in a school that had a large Haitian community. I fell in love with the culture and with the community while there and had and maintain a lot of connection to that. I actually had flights to Haiti booked when the coup happened a few years ago and was unable to go when they banned travel to the country. This tears right into the heart of the community and the Haitian people and all who are connected to them.
I thought of Doctors Without Borders after I posted that message because they are constantly kept busy no matter where or what the weather is doing. Perhaps I will divert some funds toward their organization because i don't see a medical degree anywhere in my near future!
DWB/MSF are indeed the kind of medical bada-- um, heroes :D I love to support. Always dreamed of working with them, except that I get all fainty at the sight of blood. Oops.
That's one donation to put on the "to do" list. Thank you for the heads-up overall, Raven and Ceoli.
Oh geez! Let me also put a plug in there for the UU Service Committee! They do great work and most of them are good friends of mine actually. They are very community oriented. They are more likely to go into the community and find out from the actual people where the aid needs to go rather than deciding from far away. They are also working very closely with the Haitian community in Boston throughout all of this.
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