I have been getting numerous e-mails about the tragedy in Haiti. This outpouring of concern and sympathy touches me deeply. Many of you have asked what you can do.
My partner has worked in some difficult postings in his career. Countries with little infrastructure, dire poverty, natural disasters, violence, critical governance issues. One of them was his own country, Haiti. He has suggested a tiered approach based on his experience in post-disaster and post-conflict:
1. Now: Contribute money to international disaster relief and humanitarian organizations. The need is always bigger than their budgets. They know what to do on the ground to limit casualties, provide shelter, food and medical attention. Every little bit counts.
2. Now: Provide emotional support to people affected directly by the tragedy, either those being flown to the US and Canada after the quake, or those already there grieving. There are few Haitian Canadians or Haitian Americans not deeply touched by the disaster. Showing that your care helps with the grieving.
3. Now: Help a family you know. Many Haitians are already suffering from the economic crisis and are not in a position to support their extended families who are now more destitute than ever. Proposing to offer some form of help to their loved ones in Haiti will help them indirectly without looking like a hand-out, which they would never accept.
4. In the months to come: Contribute to the reconstruction of Haïti. This is harder to define and will happen over the next many years, but there will be many avenues to contribute professional skills to give this proud country a second chance. If you are interested, contact me and I will put you in touch with the ones who have sent me information to date.