Posts Tagged ‘news’

Hope for Haiti?

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

This week USAID, the federal agency spearheading the US Government’s efforts in Haiti, released an updated report highlighting its current efforts in the Caribbean nation.  If nothing else, the report only seems to underscore the monumental task that remains ahead in rebuilding the country and lives of the earthquake’s survivors.  According to the most recent report from the Government of Haiti, more than 230,000 were killed in the earthquake. Currently, there are 700,000 displaced in the Port-Au-Prince area while another 597,000 have since left the capital region and migrated to other parts of the nation.

Unfortunately, damage estimates continue to rise. The Inter-American Development Bank calculates the rebuilding costs between $8 billion – $14 billion. To put this into perspective, the nonprofit community in the United States has raised close to $800 million dollars from generous donors while the US Government has already spent $538 million in the region.  Both are significant sums, but still fall far short of what will be required in the days ahead.

While many nonprofits are finding that it is obviously more challenging to fundraise now as opposed to the days immediately following the earthquake, they are still running ads and sending out emails and letters to continue to draw donor interest in the important work that remains to be done. Fortunately, many nonprofits have also learned from previous experiences in providing aid following a major natural disaster.  These groups have been measured in their spending – avoiding corruption and waste by not spending more than can be immediately be absorbed on the ground. For those of us who were on the ground in Asia following the tsunamis of 2004, there was ample evidence of the waste that occurs when groups rush in to provide aid without thought or strategy.

According to a recent article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, the American Red Cross committed $80 million of the $276 million it has raised for immediate needs. Likewise, Oxfam donated $18 million to immediate relief efforts and anticipates spending approximately 20% of the $100 million it has raised each year for the next five years.

Another interesting approach has come from a UK affiliate of SOS Children’s Villages.  The group has pledged not to spend any of the funds it raises for Haiti on administrative work. This pledge includes not spending any of its donations on advertising, fundraising, advocacy, or any other administrative function in the UK except for the purchase of goods to be directly sent to Haiti.  While the organization notes that US based charities can make an argument that the US “is a plausible base for project-related Haiti activity,” nonprofits based in the UK have a much harder time making that argument. That being the case, the organization is encouraging its British counterparts to join its efforts by signing an online pledge.

Overall, there is still much to do to help the people of Haiti begin to recover from this disaster.  It will take the continued support of the international community as well as the generosity from countless of private donors in the US and around the world.  Only in the months ahead will we really begin to know if there is hope for Haiti.

-Christopher Lindsay

Hope for Haiti Now: Giving More.

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Last Friday evening the stars aligned and networks came together to broadcast a 2-hour relief telethon to aid those struggling in Haiti. The Hope for Haiti Now telethon combined star power of celebrities answering the phone with an astonishing array of hope-filled musical performances and some heart-wrenching footage from Anderson Cooper, on the ground in Haiti.

And it worked. Disaster-related giving tends to trend downward as time goes on. The telethon, held more than week after the earthquake rocked Port-Au-Prince, was able to reverse that trend. As of yesterday, it had raised $61 million in donations worldwide.

Where is all that money going? Donations will benefit several major organizations – most of them with a longstanding background in disaster relief or a presence in Haiti. Curious about some of the organizations and how the money was being used, I looked into the recipient charities. What I found was that most of them were doing a great job “reporting back” what they are doing in Haiti and how donations are helping.

These organizations, in primarily their own words from their websites, are:

American Red Cross
More than 430 Red Cross and Red Crescent workers from at least 30 countries are in the country supporting thousands of local volunteers. Of them, more than 100 represent the American Red Cross, including a group of Creole interpreters on board the USNS Comfort.

The relief operation in Haiti is already the largest single-country personnel deployment in global Red Cross history. The number of emergency response teams in or en route to Haiti equals those that responded to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami—a disaster that spanned 14 countries.

Each Red Cross team has its own roles and expertise, and they are working together to form a powerful engine for relief.

WFP: World Food Programme
WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide. WFP is part of the United Nations system and is voluntarily funded.

Since the earthquake struck, WFP has delivered 3 million rations, the equivalent of nearly 10 million meals, to nearly 450,000 people. WFP aims to deliver 5-day rations to 100,000 people each day. Rations of rice, pulses, vegetable oil and salt are being delivered to orphanages and hospitals as a priority We are also delivering to camps for people made homeless by the quake.

Oxfam America
Working to end poverty and injustice. Oxfam has started cash-for-work programs in Port-au-Prince: In exchange for work to build latrines and clear up rubble from the camps, survivors earn money they can use to buy food (now increasingly available for sale in the city) and other essentials. Our cash-for-work program is a first step to restarting the city’s economy—it creates jobs and stimulates local markets.

Partners in Health
Partners in Health has been working in Haiti for more than 20 years. Partners In Health (PIH) works to bring modern medical care to poor communities in nine countries around the world. The work of PIH has three goals: to care for our patients, to alleviate the root causes of disease in their communities, and to share lessons learned around the world.

PIH’s surgical teams continue to race against time to provide surgical care to earthquake victims in Port-au-Prince. Operating rooms at the central general hospital (HUEH) in Port-au-Prince are fully operational again after being temporarily evacuated on yesterday in response to the aftershock. PIH is still coordinating the relief efforts at HUEH and reports having 12 operating rooms opened 24 hours per day. Across the country, we have a total of 20 operating rooms up and running.

To date, PIH has sent 22 plane loads with 144 medical volunteers – orthopedic surgeons, anesthesiologists, surgical nurses and other medical professionals – and several thousand pounds of medical supplies to support the more than 4,500 PIH health care providers already in Haiti.

Despite these accomplishments, our teams throughout the country continue to report a great need for additional medicines (antibiotics, anesthesia and narcotics), medical equipment (anesthesia machines and x-rays), medical supplies (IVs, tubing, irrigating saline), and water.

UNICEF
UNICEF and its partners are conducting intensive relief operations in Haiti, in the aftermath of the 12 January 2010 earthquake that devastated Port-au-Prince and other densely populated areas. UNICEF’s USA fund has a generous private donor that is enabling the fund to absorb all administrative costs so 100% of donations will support the children in Haiti to provide them with medical care, clean water, food and emergency relief.

Two others have powerful people at their helm and are responding swiftly to needs in Haiti. Again in their own words.

Clinton Bush Haiti Fund
The two Presidents established the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund (CBHF) to respond to unmet needs in the country, foster economic opportunity, improve the quality of life over the long term for those affected, and assist the people of Haiti as they rebuild their lives and “build back better.” The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund will do this by working with and supporting the efforts of reputable 501(c)(3) nongovernmental and nonprofit organizations. Presidents Clinton and Bush oversee the CBHF through their respective nonprofit organizations, the William J. Clinton Foundation and Communities Foundation of Texas. One hundred percent of donations received by the Clinton Foundation and the Communities Foundation of Texas go directly to relief efforts.

Yéle Haiti
Yéle Haiti is a grassroots movement that builds global awareness for Haiti while helping to transform the country through programs in education, sports, the arts and environment. Yéle’s community service programs include food distribution and mobilizing emergency relief. Grammy-Award winning musician, humanitarian and Goodwill Ambassador to Haiti Wyclef Jean founded Yéle Haiti in 2005.

If you haven’t given to help Haiti, it isn’t too late. Whether it is one of these organizations or another one that is doing great work, now is the time to think about setting up a recurring donation to provide aid. Now is the time to start thinking about long-term recovery, reconstruction and rebuilding. The tiny island nation needs our support now (and in the coming months), more than ever.

-Sara Brueck Nichols