[Much of the city of Port-au-Prince is still covered in rubble, as seen in this photo taken December 7, 2010.]
Today marks the one-year anniversary of the devastating earthquake in Haiti. More than 220,000 people died in the immediate aftermath of the quake, and an outbreak of cholera in recent months has resulted in 2,700 more deaths and 70,000 people hospitalized. Much of the city of Port-au-Prince was reduced to rubble, and as you can see from this gallery at National Geographic News, little of that rubble has been cleared in the intervening year. And those areas that are being reconstructed still lack proper building codes or a comprehensive rebuilding plan. That’s thanks in part to an unstable political system, which was not improved by the recent election–U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has expressed concern over voter fraud. And as expected, the media’s coverage of the disaster has moved on, though there’s hope that the anniversary will renew interest and encourage further support.
National Geographic Channel ad sales associate manager Alaina Appleman traveled to Haiti in late July and stayed with a friend who works for an NGO there. She visited an orphanage, bringing desperately-needed school supplies to the children, and met with several local business owners and traditional artisans in Port-au-Prince who are working to keep their cultural heritage alive. But it was disheartening, she said, to see that there was still so much to be done. “The capital was in ruins,” she says. “People were taking stones as souvenirs.”
In the ensuing months, frequent protests and violent disruptions have broken out in Port-au-Prince. As of December 9, 2010, the U.S. State Department has warned against non-essential travel to Haiti citing recent robberies and several instances in which American travelers were being targeted and attacked upon leaving the airport. They suggest that cash donations are the best way to provide aid:
U.S. citizens wishing to assist in Haiti relief efforts should be aware that – in addition to facing safety and health risks, and despite good intentions – their travel to Haiti will increase the burden on a system already struggling to support those in need. NGOs report that their capacity to absorb additional volunteers is limited. Cash donations are the most effective way to help the relief effort in Haiti.
There are still many ways to help with Haiti’s recovery process. We’ve assembled a few after the jump, and please add your suggestions in the comments.
National Geographic’s Global Action Atlas has partnered with Global Giving to aggregate projects around the world that need support. Visit their Haiti resource page to find ways programs that are helping to rebuild irrigation systems and sanitation facilities, support small businesses and women’s leadership initiatives, and more.
Northwest Haiti Christian Mission has been serving the northwest coast of Haiti for 30 years by partnering with local churches and is currently taking care of many who fled Port-au-Prince after the earthquake. On their website donation page you can choose which area of their ministry you would like to support: earthquake relief, education, nutrition, etc.
Heifer International is a nonprofit organization that promotes sustainability, espousing the “teach a man to fish” principal. Through donations they provide livestock, agricultural resources and training. They are based in two different cities in Haiti. On their website you can choose what kind of animal you would like to donate and how that donation will help the lives of the family who receives it.
Fonkoze is considered the Haitian version of Kiva.org, and is the largest microfinance institution in Haiti. In the year since the earthquake they have distributed more than 10,869 micro-loans to small businesses. This article provide a great overview of the project.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
Artists for Peace and Justice have built the first free middle school and high school in the largest slum in Haiti. 100 percent of donations go to on-the-ground work. (Watch the video created by one of their young students on their homepage and it will make your heart ache.)
MercyCorps hosts a staggering array of projects in Haiti, including the Moving Forward project, which helps provide play- and sport-based psychosocial support to youth. Read their excellent blog written by their staff to get an inside glimpse into the recovery effort and life at the camps.
Partners in Health is a medical group started by Paul Farmer 25 years ago in Mirebalais that organizes community-based health clinics. They’ve served over 240,000 patients in their clinics in the past year.
Websites such as The Foundation Center, CharityNavigator and NetworkForGood provide profiles with financial data on aid groups and can help you research the backgrounds and reputations of various charities before you donate.
Additional reporting by Caitlin Etherton. Photograph by Eduardo Munoz, Reuters