Wisdom to know how best to help in Haiti

This is a post that I took from my friend who is also a missionary in Haiti.  He is in Fort Liberte in the north.  There is much wisdom in what he said.  I hope this sheds light on the situation and helps direct aid in the most efficient manner.  He writes:

“How You Can Help

It’s difficult to suggest a good way—or right way—to get involved in disaster relief. If you’re like me, you’ve got your work clothes and a shovel by the door, ready to go. You might already be raising money?

A few things you need to know about the earthquake in Haiti:

 1) It effectively wiped out the government. Since utilities and certain financial services are state-run, the entire country is in the process of grinding to a halt. Without “movement” in the economy, people will begin taking survival into their own hands in a matter of days. For example, we live in a provincial capitol where many are employed by the government. Where is the next paycheck going to come from? On the radio, they announced that we have enough fuel for the city to give electricity for four-hours each night, for 19 more nights. Then we’re out of fuel—which is exclusively regulated through Port-au-Prince. The catastrophe is in Port-au-Prince at the moment, but it will be nationwide shortly.

 2) Be realistic about aid. I’m 85 miles from ground zero, I have a truck, I speak Creole, I’m willing, able…but I’m having a tough time “getting involved” in a meaningful way. A 20-person “work team” is not realistic at the moment. Take care not to bombard your contacts in Haiti. Be ready and be patient. Be comforted in knowing that the residents of Port-au-Prince themselves are by far the most capable first-responders. They are knowledgeable, invested, and have the most at stake. Pray for them! Additionally, praise God that foreign militaries and mega-humanitarian organizations have the financial backing, manpower, resources, equipment, and supply lines, to get in quickly and help. Regardless of what the media reports, they are hands-down the ones leading the charge.

 3) Avoid shipping containers. Hey, canned food drives are great! But the reality is that it will be absolute chaos at the port when the containers arrive. Also, the ports here are simply not equipped to handle the surge. A couple years ago, during the food crisis, it was crazy how much stuff sat around rotting. It can’t be handled fast enough and it goes to waste.
What do I recommend?
Personally, I do not feel that it’s a bad idea to make a donation to a large aid organization. You may not know where the money is going, and there is a lot of bureaucracy, but as I mentioned before—right now, they are the best suited for the task.

 There is a philosophy for doing “development” work and a philosophy for doing “relief” work. The rules vary greatly. Right now in Haiti we are in “relief” mode, and the rules that we played by last week are now set aside indefinitely. Sustainable development is not the issue any more, survival is.

 If you’re interested in partnering in a more personal way, I suggest fortifying trustworthy ministries that are on the ground in Haiti right now. If existing ministries are forced to evacuate, we lose ground in the relief effort. If you have friends in Haiti, ask them: Does your family need emergency funds to continue living and working in Haiti right now? Are you ministering to neighbors that are hurting and are additional supplies or funds needed? Are buildings that you live in and work in damaged? Are doctors accessible? Is medicine accessible? Is your vehicle in working order? How is your water supply? What are your plans for electricity? Communications?

 The rules changed Tuesday. Today, the needs are totally different. Rally your church, business partners, school, or circle of friends, and meet needs that will enable those in the trenches to stay in the trenches.”

My friend spoke there with great wisdom and I hope it helps people who want to help know best what to do.

 We are in Jacmel, an area that got hit hard, but not nearly as catastrophic as Port au Prince. We too have the dead, the wounded, the homeless, and the trapped, but just not in such epic proportions as Port au Prince. 

  The “relief efforts” that we are currently involved in are simply providing food and water to people who have lost their homes and have no means of getting food and water.

 We need funds in our account that will enable us to purchase food and water for the people in our community.  We also need additional funds that will enable us to care for the families that we have taken into our own home due to their house being ruined.

 We also need additional funds for our own family so that we can buy our own food and water as well as gas for our vehicle and for our generator.  Please know that any money that is given through our mission agency will go directly to us in our relief efforts.  Please see post below for specific giving instructions or click on our “Ministry Needs” page.

 Thank you so much for your willingness and desire to help.