Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Help Needed Now for Desperate, Earthquake-ravaged Haiti

A 7.0 earthquake destroyed much of Port-au-Prince and caused devastating damage and loss of human life in the Western Hemisphere's poorest country, Haiti, yesterday. Hundreds of thousands are now reported to have died (CNN link).

It is incumbent on all of us to reach out and help the Haitian people in the moment of their greatest need.

For those interested in helping immediately, simply text "HAITI" to "90999" and a donation of $10 will be given automatically to the Red Cross to help with relief efforts, charged to your cell phone bill. (More information) (H/T Gotta Laff, where even a longer list of relief agencies can be accessed.)

Or click through to donate at:
American Red Cross
American Jewish World Service
Catholic Relief Services
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières
Haiti Emergency Relief Fund
Haiti Relief Fund
International Relief Teams
Medical Teams International
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
I'm going to send my donation to the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund (HERF). This organization has been fighting since 2004 to provide "aid to Haiti’s grassroots democratic movement as they attempted to survive the brutal [2004, U.S. and French-backed] coup and to rebuild shattered development projects." (Update: The donation link provided by HERF takes you to PayPal, but there's no email address or account set up to receive the donation. If they get their act together, I'll update. Meanwhile, I still think they're an organization worth taking note of. Send your donation where you best think the money will help, or use the snail-mail address below to send to HERF. The link has been fixed and is working!)

HERF has helped "grassroots activists who had to flee their homes and live as internal refugees.... human rights workers and attorneys who continue, under dangerous conditions, to document human rights violations and defend victims of repression.... [and] assisted trade unionists whose labor organizing was violently attacked."

HERF has worked to help create sustainable agriculture and promote educational projects in this poorest of countries.

HERF board members write:
We can expect that the mainstream media will shift its eyes away from Haiti over the next months. We will not do the same. One concrete form of support is to help the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund. HERF is administered by a board of Haiti solidarity activists and deeply connected to grassroots movements in Haiti. In a country in which many people live on less than a dollar a day, every dollar goes a long way. Please give generously. Our dollars can do so much.
You can donate to the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund here. [Note: the link here isn't really usable at the moment, but if you try and works for you, would you leave that message in the comments portion of the blog? Thanks! The link is working now.]

Or mail your contribution to HERF in care of East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, 2362 Bancroft Way, Berkeley, CA 94704. Donations to HERF are tax-deductible.

What keeps Haiti so impoverished? What makes for a government that has NO construction standards or codes (a sure reason for the large loss of life in this disaster)? For those interested in the recent history of Haiti, check out this excellent article at, "Haiti: A Coup Regime, Human Rights Abuses."

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