Friday, October 07, 2016

Helping Haiti

Social media is awash in stories from the devastation wrought by Hurricane Matthew. In America the impact will be severe in terms of property damage and some loss of life. In Haiti where there is virtually no functioning infrastructure, the results are devastating. As of right now the death toll stands at 800 and I am sadly certain that this is the proverbial tip of the iceberg.

Some might think that Americans should worry about our American neighbors in need and not worry about people in a foreign country. To that I respond that while I understand the sentiment, it is without question that the recovery in America for the average person is far swifter than Haiti. Should I lose all of my food and clothing to a hurricane I could simply drive to the nearest Wal-Mart and replenish, although that would require me to wear super tacky polyester "fashion" clothing which is only marginally better than being naked covered in honey sitting on a fire-ant nest. Haiti simply has no infrastructure, no emergency services, no way for their government to magically create "money" to pay for recuperation. Haiti, although I have only been there once, has a special place in my heart (see my post Why Haiti?) and many, many of my brothers and sisters in Christ are serving our Lord in that so often tragic land.

If you are looking for a way to financially help the people of Haiti, my recommendation is go small and go local. Give to smaller, hopefully more accountable organizations with minimal overhead and who understand the country rather than some giant group that eats up contributions just to raise more money. Two groups are on my rather short list.

The Hope Community Project formerly was the Haiti Orphan Project but after some difficult soul searching now focuses on orphan prevention. That is a less sexy sounding mission statement than running an orphanage in a desperately poor country but it is the right way to go. Helping Haitians to maintain and strengthen communities and families is their mission:

We exist to facilitate the development of healthy communities through partnerships with Haitian churches and organizations to encourage sustainable physical, spiritual and economic health; we desire to communicate Christ-centered compassion as well as respect for the dignity and resources of the Haitian people.

They are good people and I know some of them personally and can vouch for the work they do and the Christ-centered approach they take.

Another group I am familiar with including some staff personally is Christian Aid Ministries. In spite of the rather generic name they are a group mostly made up of conservative Anabaptists and have a strong presence in Haiti. CAM also has the distinction of using more than 97.5% of their funds for direct aid and less than 3% on fund raising and overhead.

There are other groups of course but I encourage you to really get to know the groups you donate to. Too many contributions given in haste are ill spent and the needs are too great around the world to blow your money paying for someone to sit in a cubicle in Dallas raising funds to pay their own salary.

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