Amidst the destruction and stink of death, there remains life and hope in Haiti. This little boy’s smile reminded so many of us that Haiti still needs our help. There are still lives to be saved, and donations are still desperately needed.
In my previous posts on Haiti, I mentioned initiatives that are directly donating to Wyclef Jean’s charity, Yele. While I still do believe that Yele will use those funds to benefit the people of Haiti, I’ve been doing some research amongst people I personally know who have been to Haiti and seen the devastation first hand, who have shared some of my concerns.
And my concerns are — misappropriation of funds meant to help victims of the earthquake. Religious groups who are viewing this as an opportunity to help, yes — but also as an opportunity to convert and therefore “save” Haitian people from their own beliefs, to their religion of choice. Notoriously corrupt government officials and/or CEOs using this as an opportunity to fatten their own pockets. People starting up fly by night charities with the intent to fleece those of us who yearn to help, to give, to do something for this destroyed country. And believe me, all of that is happening right this minute. I am not condemning any charity, and I myself gave to Yele and the Red Cross. But I felt the need to do a little more research.
I reached out to two friends of mine whose opinions I value implicitly — both esteemed reporters who have a track record for exposing corruption. Both of them were just in Haiti to report stories, and just returned to their homes this weekend. I would like to express my gratitude for their unrestrained honesty.
One of my friends recommended Doctors Without Borders and Mercy Corps as the two large organizations they personally observed doing the most good on the ground right now. This friend also mentioned the Tzu Chi Foundation, a Buddhist group from Taiwan that has a rich history of helping people after natural disasters, especially earthquakes. This group is notable because they do not try to convert people to their religion. Right now they’re in Port-au-Prince, giving people blankets, rice, corn powder, used clothing and medical kits.
One of my friends is Tristram Korten — one of the best journalists I have had the pleasure to know. Tris writes for the likes of Salon, Ocean Drive, Mother Jones, and Atlantic Monthly. He told me and I quote: “The best, most direct group working there in my opinion is UM Global Institute/Project Medishare. They set up the largest operating hospital, and Medishare has been there years. I know them from before all this.”
The trauma doctors of Project Medishare are working closely with the Haitian Ministry of Health to get help where it’s needed most.
This isn’t to say you shouldn’t feel free to donate to whichever charity seems best to you, I’m just trying my best to get information I know I can stand by 100%. If you know of any charity that is successfully helping the Haitian people, please let me know in the comments!