January 14, 2010

Haiti: How to Help

This is a bit off topic from forensic psychology, but with the latest estimates of casualties at 100,000 or more for our southern neighbor, we all need to do what we can to help. Unfortunately, as Sarah van Gelder over at Yes! magazine points out, the wrong kind of well-intended help can feed corruption, dependence on outsiders, and even exploitation.

With that in mind, I recommend that blog readers who want to contribute donations to the relief effort consider the following organizations, all of which were already in Haiti with proven track records of providing medical care and fostering self-reliance there:
  • Doctors Without Borders, which had more than 800 medical personnel in Haiti when the quake hit, has already treated hundreds of people injured in the quake and is working to get more staff into the country. Doctors are setting up medical facilities in tents, since their own clinics there are severely damaged.
  • Partners in Health has been providing medical care to the poor in Haiti since 1983. PIH's flagship project is located there, and the agency has a strong record of promoting self-reliance through medical education. PIH is coordinating 120 doctors and 500 nurses already on the ground, with more personnel and supplies slated to arrive soon.
  • Oxfam's Latin America emergency response team is headquartered in Haiti, so they are well positioned to respond quickly. They have a strong track record of supporting local rebuilding rather than funneling money to outside contractors. Right now, Oxfam is focusing on water and sanitation (to prevent the outbreak of waterborne diseases), sending badly needed medical supplies, and erecting temporary shelters for the quarter-million or more displaced residents of the devastated capital city.
Click on any of the above links to go to the group's web site and provide critically needed financial support.

Hat tip, Maya Schenwar of TruthOut (which is providing
live blog coverage of the tragedy) and Sarah van Gelder of YES! magazine

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