Getting Involved: Help Haiti

Our deepest condolences and most heartfelt prayers go to the people of Haiti, both there and abroad. With the rest of the world, we remain terribly saddened by Tuesday’s catastrophic earthquake.

We are as deeply moved as you to learn that some experts have marked this earthquake as the worst the world has ever seen (in terms of human lives lost and devastating impact). In less than 48 hours, estimates from Haitian officials project that hundreds of thousands of people may have died. We remain prayerful as we embrace the fact that the relief, repair, and recovery of this country are going to take years.

For the past 48 hours, we have been in around the clock communication and meetings with some of the country’s most resourceful and dedicated leaders and influencers of all races and backgrounds, from congress, to celebrities, to civic organizations, and others. We have both been inundated with hundreds of inquiries from people looking for ways to help. Even as we navigate this whirlwind of information and emotion, we firmly believe that we must support Haiti in a way that powerfully respects this great island nation.

We have prepared this HELP HAITI document as a basic, but informative resource tool for how to offer your support TODAY. This list is not complete, we know, but it’s a start for those who have asked us “How can I help?” or “Who is going to make sure that my donation gets directly to the people?”

Our communication with these leaders has included Haitian and Haitian-American activists. They are deeply grateful for the outpouring of support that the world has shown. With great passion and clarity of thought, however, they also remind Americans to please direct their cash donations and supplies to ground-level organizations that are respected as capacity-building organizations that are in touch with the people of Haiti.

They remind us that the most recognizable disaster relief organizations that people tend to turn to in times like these are the ones who have a little known history of profiting off the pain of the people of Haiti. In sobering tones, they told us that Haitians, sadly, have come to expect to be exploited in times like this.

The level of corruption is real and scandalous, but it doesn’t exist in every organization. There are truly caring people and organizations who have been working on the ground and who will remain there helping the people long after the cameras have left and long after the world starts to suffer from “Haiti fatigue.” Our Haitian friends remind us to not be caught up in the aid industry (where non-profit relief corporations often block, withhold, or sell your donated supplies to the people). Instead, they remind us to give support to capacity-building organizations who are genuinely interested in helping Haiti to be self-reliant, self-determining, and independent.

You can help make a meaningful difference by utilizing the information in this document. There are always three stages in dealing with natural and human-made tragedies: RESCUE, then RELIEF, and finally REBUILD. We are asking all concerned human beings to participate and volunteer as much time and energy as possible to all three stages to HELP HAITI.

In unity, Kevin Powell and April R. Silver