Seeing these images, I cannot help but be reminded of my time on the MS Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and I only wish I were able to help as directly as I could when tragedy struck the Gulf. Ha, I wish I could run around Haiti to show my support in lieu of running 51 marathons. Of course, my life was in a different place then, and while I can't go to Haiti and set up a relief operation like in Bay St. Louis, I hopefully can help in a small way by offering at least a little bit of direction. The many aid organizations active in Haiti now are working in high gear to triage the situation, and their greatest need is certainly financial. Secondly, the need is for skilled volunteers (specifically at this point the need is for medical help). I was thrilled to learn that my brother (an orthopedic surgeon) is headed to Haiti to help directly. Although helping directly would be incredible, I know that right now the best help I can be is to contribute financially what I can to the efforts already in place.
It's exciting to see the swell of support not only from our country but also from around the world. For example, I read that even the financially devastated African country of Liberia has donated $50,000 in aid. Amazing.
Another interesting connection for me between this devastation and the time I spent on the Gulf Coast leading aid efforts is the resiliency of the people. The Haitian people have had a strong influence on the culture of New Orleans, and it's wonderful to see the similarities. The stories of new communities banding together to help each other in Haiti are wonderful, and pictures of impromptu groups singing praise songs and banding together for support are amazing. Haiti will need help rebuilding for many years to come, and I only hope we are able to keep their people in our hearts and minds as the months pass, but the needs continue.
Here are a few great organizations working in Haiti if you're looking for some ideas;
- GHESKIO- an aid organization that has been active in Haiti for a while helping in AIDs relief is now on the forefront of setting up shelter and care for those in need. You can donate to GHESKIO here. Learn more about their efforts in an msnbc article here.
- Doctors Without Borders- another fantastic aid organization that is helping save lives directly through surgeries and medical care. Donate to their efforts/learn more here.
- World Vision- yet another great international aid organization committed to a presence in Haiti for years to come. Learn more/donate to them here.
Please feel free to share any other organizations you may be aware of or other ideas/thoughts. Let's all do our part to help!