by Nathan Empsall, Wed Jan 13, 2010 at 11:11:00 PM EST
I gave $25 to the Martha Coakley campaign Monday night, but now it's clear that that won't even come close to being my most important donation of the month.
You know the basics: A 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti with an epicenter just 10 miles from the capitol. As many as 100,000 may be dead in this country of less than 10 million. Children are stacked like cordwood outside some schools. The already shockingly-poor nation does not have the infrastructure to handle such a disaster. Former USAID administrator Brian Atwood said on public radio's Marketplace this afternoon that the chaos "will mean a country that really doesn't function as a country. It probably will have to be functioning more as a protectorate of the international community for at least a year or two."
A valiant international relief effort is under-way, but if Katrina and the tsunami taught us anything, it is that major disasters are not something governments alone can handle. Successful relief efforts require private citizens to step up to the plate, so let us do our parts for our brothers and sisters in the Caribbean.
The Washington Post (along with the White House and many other media organizations) has a great round-up of relief organizations in Haiti. I will be donating to Partners in Health and OxFam, not so much because they are two of my favorite relief organizations (though they are) but because each has a long-standing presence in Haiti. With the nation's infrastructure already in bad shape, it seems to me like a good idea to support organizations already there and ready to go.
Please give. Because Haiti is already so poor, this is one of those instances where $5 really can make a huge difference, even in a pool of millions. I took three service trips, one lasting three months, to New Orleans after Katrina and will attest first hand to the value of private response. Please, give.
Oxfam has an emergency team in the capital, Port-au-Prince, responding with public health, water, and sanitation services. You can donate online through its Haiti Earthquake Response Fund or by calling 1-800-77-OXFAM.
Partners In Health is taking contributions for relief efforts in Haiti, including medical supplies. The organization has had a presence in Haiti for more than 20 years, working to address the health care needs of the country's poor.
You can donate to The Salvation Army's efforts in Haiti by calling 800-SAL-ARMY (725-2769) or visiting their Web site and designating that your donation is for the Haiti earthquake.
National Nurses United has issued a call for nurse volunteers to provide assistance to those affected by the earthquake in Haiti...
[Note from Nathan: The Post article at this point has a very long list of active organizations seeking donations; please send at least $5 to one of them. As I say, though I usually go with Episcopal Relief and Development or the Red Cross, this time I personally am choosing OxFam and Partners in Health.]
The State Department has set up a hotline for Americans to inquire after family in Haiti: 888-407-4747. [Note from Nathan: Extended Haitian-American family tell me they can't get through yet - but keep trying.]
There are several ways to donate via mobile device:
• Text the word "Yele" to 501501 to donate $5 on behalf of the Yele Haiti Foundation, founded by Haitian musician Wyclef Jean.
• Text the word "Haiti" to 85944 to donate $5 on behalf of the Rescue Union Mission and MedCorp International.
• Text the word "Haiti" to 25383 to donate $5 on behalf of the Internal Rescue Committee.
• Text the word "Haiti" to 90999 to donate $10 on behalf of the American Red Cross.
• Text the word "Haiti" to 45678 (in Canada only) on behalf of the Salvation Army in Canada.
On a related note, Pat Robertson may well be the world's biggest jackass. I am a devout Christian, and that man does not represent my faith or my church.