Actions for Haiti

Downtown Port-au-PrinceI think that viewing the magnitude of human trauma in Haiti right now is similar to trying to mentally envision the difference between a 1000 and a 2000 sided object – we can’t really do it. Our concepts only extend so far and well before 1000 we begin to lose our ability to make distinctions. Similarly, the horrific images we’re all witnessing overwhelm and saturate our understanding of the realities of the situation.

But each of us have suffered. And each of us feel that visceral shock and deep sense of sorrow when confronted by such tragedies. We likewise feel an intense desire to be “anxiously engaged” in bringing what relief we can. We have, and each of us keenly sense, a moral and religious obligation to help.

Our Church leaders, and particularly our current prophet, have made responding to such crises an immediate priority (see here, here and here for the current response to Haiti). Rarely is a Church News edition printed without highlighting a humanitarian project that the Church is engaged in. And of course, there’s our recent change/addition/modification/whatever to our Church mission.

The Church is able to respond so efficiently in large part because we, its members, support such action, because we have created a culture of service and sacrifice. The crises in Haiti will undoubtedly see mass turnout by individual members, just as past crises have. I think our largest obstacle is that as individuals we’re usually not nearly as poised for immediate response as the Church is.

The immediate call being sounded by govts and aid agencies on the ground in Haiti is for cash – to buy, transport and distribute emergency supplies and water. The current cost-benefit analyses I’m hearing state that the biggest impact you can make right now is simply to transfer your cash. Who do we donate to? What other opportunities to assist are there? What worthy projects are you aware of? I’ll list few suggestions, but want largely to turn it over to you to discuss how best we as individuals can respond.

Obviously there is the Church. You can go here to donate to our Haiti efforts. As we all know, much of the Church’s funds and supplies are turned over to other agencies. Each of us have skills for discriminating between trustworthy and untrustworthy entities (e.g., friends, businesses, politicians) – what agencies do you personally partner with?

Here’s three that I trust in the current efforts: Jesuit Refugee Service, Save the Children, and Partners in Health, are three organizations with a longstanding presence in Haiti that have made significant commitments to the disaster relief effort in Port-au-Prince.

In addition to cash, giving blood in a time like this is critical and costs very little.

If you’re capable of donating a week or two (e.g., if you’re in between jobs or have the vacation time available, or can afford unpaid leave), you can research and put yourself on agency’s lists to volunteer to go to Haiti. Teams of volunteers will likely begin deploying soon.

I’m (quite obviously here) a big believer in simply helping to advertise – people want to help but often don’t know how. Given life’s way of quickly overwhelming us, ignorance can easily turns into a lack of response. Advertise on Facebook, Twitter, email, make it a topic of conversation with others.

This might include a family home evening, educating ourselves and families on this and other similar humanitarian needs, and discussing what response makes the most sense for your family.

And then of course, I believe in the efficacy of spiritual efforts as individuals and as a religious community – special fasts and prayers, etc. Not only do I believe in the efficacy of such actions for those who suffer, I think it puts us in a position to receive revelation on what we can and should do.

Now share with us your other thoughts, ideas, and worthy agencies.

(Note: this post is emphatically not meant for rants on the corruption of govts and NGOs: It’s virtually guaranteed that dishonest parasites will do what they can to suck funds from the dying – this means we need to be wise but is clearly not an excuse to avoid action or waste energy whining)

10 comments for “Actions for Haiti

  1. Dan
    January 15, 2010 at 10:48 am

    I’ve always been a big fan of UNICEF.

    That is a wonderful organization for helping children in terrible areas.

  2. MarenM
    January 15, 2010 at 11:08 am

    I like how the church is sending a group of volunteer doctors as well as supplies. Thanks for the reminder that our ability to help is not just limited to cash (important as that resource is) but extends to our spiritual power as well. And donating blood- great idea.

  3. Skyler
    January 15, 2010 at 11:10 am

    I was personally in Haiti two weeks ago working in the orphanages with a group called Foundation for Children in Need. They are a group that looks for opportunities to bring love and hope to the future leaders of Haiti as well as supplies.

    I can only imagine the devestation not only physical and structural but also emotional. The people of Haiti will need all the supper we can give. I know that I want to be first on the list to go and rebuild in Haiti.

    If you would like more information on Foundation for Children inNeed please visit

  4. January 15, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    I can’t believe it seriously, just 1 incident and there dead bodies for over 100 000.

    Do you think the end is really coming and that’s a sign from God?


  5. bbell
    January 15, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    I think we should do a churchwide fast and then take that money and use it for Haiti relief. If I remember right we did that in 1984 in response to the African famine.

  6. The other Bro Jones
    January 15, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    I think most of us are not in much of a position to actually go there and swing a hammer, but I would love to.

    Most of us can give a little cash.

    My concern is about where it goes. If you take a few thaousand dollars to Port-au-Prince today, what can you get with it? Are there resources available in other parts of the counry that can be brought in? I hear people on the radio saying that for $150 you can feed 4 families for a month. What are they feeding them? Who has any food?

    I think there will have to be a huge miltary response ot keep order so repairs can be made ot the airports and ports and so aid can be distributed, but I’m sure they won’t be handing out cash.

    We will need a co-ordinated effort with people sending cash to reponsible organizations who can have others buy the stuff in other countries, and have yet others ship it in, where still others will distribute it.

    These are basic logistical problems, and I’m sure the church and other charities know how to go about this.

    They did a lot very quietly after the Tsunami and stayed long after the reporters left.

    Bro Jones

  7. January 15, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    So grateful for this post. So many want to help but just don’t know what to do.

    About a third of our ward in Boca was Haitian — at least a third of my YW were. Most of them had family in Haiti. This is so tragic. I pray for these sweet families.

  8. WillF
    January 15, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    I am no expert in the social implications of adopting orphans from a foreign country, but I do wonder if this might be a way for some people to help who have the means and desire to adopt a child. I guess the fear is that the process could be abused. Anyway, I’m curious what people might think of this idea who have more experience with international adoption.

    I thought this article raised some good points: Orphanage: Adoption plan needed for Haitian children

  9. Maren Mecham
    January 16, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    If you live in the Washington DC area, here’s another way, albeit short on notice. (I just found out about it today.) Haitian Embassy survival kits

  10. MarenM
    January 16, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    And one more way to donate: Clinton Bush Haiti Fund. Talk about bipartisanship. Way to go!

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