Monday, January 18, 2010

Updates from Haiti - Reports from Those on the Ground

It has been almost six days since the news of the devastating earthquake in Haiti began to be broadcast to the outside world. In those days, many of us have stared at our TV's and computer screens in utter disbelief at the extent of the destruction and suffering. I shed countless tears and offered myriad prayers on behalf of the many Haitians I have known over the years. Most of the readers of the White Rhino Report may not be aware that from 1974-1975, I lived in the mountains of Haiti, serving as administrator at the small hospital at the Baptist Mission in Fermathe, about an hour up the mountains from Port-au-Prince. I have not been back to Haiti in quite a few years, but part of my heart will forever be there.

I have learned that the hospital in the mountains survived the earthquake and is being used as a center for treating patients who are able to make it up the mountain from Port-au-Prince and Petionville, and is partnering with other organizations to provide doctors and other medical personnel closer to the capital city.

Many have asked me where to send money, so that they can be assured that the money will go directly to those in the greatest need.

The Red Cross has an outstanding reputation of using donated funds widely and efficiently, and you can never go wrong in steering donations through them:

Red Cross Website

Partners in Health, founded by Dr. Paul Farmer, is headquartered here in Boston. Their hospital in the interior of the country escaped major damage, and their staff and volunteers are helping to spearhead emergency medical and evacuation efforts. Donations sent to them directly will be well used.

Partners in Health Website

Partners in Health Photo Gallery

Haiti Baptist Mission is dong wonderful work in the rural mountainous areas above Port-au-Prince.

Baptist Haiti Mission Website

The response from the U.S. and abroad has been generous and heartfelt. What we need to understand is that emergency relief for those trapped and homeless is only the beginning. At a strategic level, infrastructure must be built from scratch and a sustainable economy must be established that uses the remarkable resilience and work ethic of the Haitian people to create small and mid-sized entrepreneurial ventures. So, long-term, I encourage you to partner with organizations that look beyond hand-outs to encouraging self-reliance using micro-finance and other instruments.

Sadly, not everyone understands the plight of Haiti. Last night, I found this posting on Facebook, and engaged in a "conversation" with the person whose perspective was woefully limited:

"Ok, watched the Golden Globes tonight, and ALL they talked about was donating to Haiti...Seriously, donate to our own country. Who helps us when we have tragedies? Am i selfish for thinking that Haiti needs to help themselves or what? Or am I being real because I'm tired of the U.S. picking up the slack for other countries?"

Last night I learned good news from my friend, Casimir Deronette, whose family comes from Bon Repos, not far from Port-au-Prince. After three days of silence and wondering about the fate of a family member in Haiti, Casimir learned that his relative was alive. He and his co-workers had just left their jobs in the National Bank when the earthquake hit and the building collapsed.

Despite our recent economic woes, even in the worst of times, the vast majority of us Americans are enormously blessed in comparison with most of those living in Haiti. Have you noticed that almost everyone who is interviewed in Haiti begins by praising God? These are, for the most part, wonderful, giving, hard-working, God-fearing individuals who want nothing more than a chance to work hard to support their families and live a productive and healthy life. Please pray that they may have that opportunity in the wake of this tragedy. And, as you pray, ask God how you may be able to help - in the short term and in the long run.

God bless.


1 comment:

Casimir said...

Thanks for all that you do Al!

God Bless you and your family!