{the truth about helping haiti}

Some of you may not like what I’m about to say.

We’ve all seen photos or video of the devastation in Haiti. You’ve probably texted to donate to the Red Cross or Yele. You’re sitting their thinking, “What else can I do?” You want to go there and do something, but no one will let you. You look around at how blessed you are that you have shelter, food, running water, and clothes. You no doubt, sit there looking around at all this stuff. And then the light bulb flashes in your head. Your stuff. You can give your stuff!

STOP.

You heard me. Stop right there. Don’t go get that trashbag and fill it with clothes. At least, not yet.

You see, when a disaster hits, we want to do as much as we can. We want to go there. We want to give in ways that feel more evident to us. We want to do something.

STOP.

Now count how many times I just said “we want.”

LISTEN.

This is not about us. It isn’t about what WE need. It’s about what THEY need. Yes, victims will eventually need clothes and all sorts of other goods that we have in our homes that we can donate. The problem is that the organizations that respond to disasters like this need all the people they can get on the ground and supporting those people on the ground. They don’t need to spend money on storing your old cast-offs or waste capable volunteers on collecting your old shit. Those organizations aren’t going to be shipping your unwanted jeans and dresses to Haiti right now. What they will be shipping in and out of that country is people, food, supplies, and equipment. Doing that takes money. Unrestricted money.

Something many people don’t know, or at least never think about, is that when donations are made to NGO’s {non governmental organizations} and given restrictions that money is bound up. NGO’s need to be adaptable. They need to be able to allocate funds where they need it, when they need it. Most of the time, the biggest obstacle is getting people on the ground long-term in a way that works. That takes money, time, and people.

Right now, the best thing you can do is give money. Go text those numbers again. Done?

Ok, well that takes care of the money part. Now, give it time. Take out your blackberry or iphone. Pull up whatever calendar you use and look up a date 6 months or 1 year from now. Block out one day or more. Title it “Volunteer for Haiti” and close it.

Good, that takes care of people. Unless you have prior disaster experience, are a doctor, a nurse, an advanced speaker of creole, or an engineer, they don’t need you right now. They will need you in a few months. They will need you in a few years.

The question is, will you be there?

If you really want to get rid of your old stuff, auction it on ebay’s special Haiti relief page and donate the profits to one of the organizations currently working in Haiti.

{A list of organizations to donate & volunteer with on your calendar date}
+ A list of things you CAN give now {minus the clothing items if you are giving to other organizations.}
+ Some organizations that are and have been working in the area and need donations.
+ Donate and Volunteer with Habitat International
+ Donate, Fundraise, and Volunteer with Partners in Health

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5 thoughts on “{the truth about helping haiti}

  1. Thank you so much for posting this. Everything is so chaotic at this time that people need to understand that for once in our world, we cannot accomplish anything instantly. Everyone should do what they can from where they are now.

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