If you’re a long-time reader and friend, you know my love for Haiti runs deep. I first traveled to Haiti in 2012 with a desire to get to know the country beyond what was being reported following the 7.0 earthquake in 2010. While visiting artisans around the country, I heard Haitians were skeptical. Visitors claimed they had come to help provide earthquake relief for Haiti but, “So many people come and say they’re going to help but they never come back.”
That first trip led to years of traveling to Haiti. Your support ensured I’m not a typical visitor. Each time I’ve asked for assistance for Haiti, your generosity has been inspiring.
You’ve helped me provide purses to women artisan groups, feminine hygiene supplies to women and girls, and technology to outfit the first community library and maker space in Haiti. You’ve read about the importance of fair trade products that create sustainable jobs. You assisted with Hurricane Matthew relief efforts, depleting Amazon Wish List items over and over again until my bags were stuffed.
Today I’m here to ask you to help provide earthquake relief for Haiti.
4 Ways to Help Provide Earthquake Relief for Haiti
So many of you have reached out to ask how you can help provide earthquake relief for Haiti. Keep reading for a list of 8 trusted organizations that will ensure your money goes to good use, companies who use fair trade practices to support sustainable jobs in Haiti, and why donating airline miles can help.
What You Need to Know About Earthquakes in Haiti
The 7.0 Haiti earthquake in 2010 left an estimated 220,000 dead, more than 1 million people displaced, and about 300,000 injured. This quake had a greater effect on the capitol city of Port au Prince due because the epicenter was in Leogane, a coastal town about 20 miles west of the city.
The epicenter of Saturday’s 7.2 earthquake was located on the country’s southern peninsula, 77 miles away from Port au Prince. While the .2 difference in magnitude may not seem like a lot, this quake was more powerful than the 7.0 quake in 2010 due to the logarithmic magnitude scale.
According to Science Magazine, the logarithmic scale means that “if you add 1 to an earthquake’s magnitude, you multiply the shaking by 10. Fractional differences work the same way. Increase the magnitude by 0.1, and you multiply the shaking by 10^(0.1), or about 1.259—an increase of 26%. Increase the magnitude by 0.3, and the shaking almost exactly doubles.”
If you’re wondering why there are so many large scale earthquakes in Haiti, it’s because the country sits on a fault line between huge tectonic plates. Tectonic plates are big pieces of the Earth’s crust that slide past each other over time. Their movement causes earthquakes.
This map of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti from NPR contains dotted orange lines that indicate fault lines. It illustrates how Haiti sits on a fault line between huge tectonic plates of the Earth’s crust- the North American plate and the Caribbean plate.
My Experience in Les Cayes and Camp-Perrin, Haiti
The devastation is hard enough to witness on the news. It’s even more difficult when you know the places you’re seeing and have know people who live there.
I traveled the single road to Les Cayes in October 2016. It was the only way to bring relief supplies to Camp-Perrin just two weeks after Hurricane Matthew.
Looking back at pictures, the memories of waiting in a long line of traffic to cross the single bridge that was washed away by the rains came flooding back.
I wonder if the same bridge was rebuilt better to withstand the shaking or if it was washed away by Tropical Storm Grace.
As we continued our journey to Les Cayes, the road took us closer to the direct path of Hurricane Matthew. Palm trees that had been bent by hours of relentless wind still stood as residents worked to rebuild. Shiny corrugated metal glinted in the sun.
I passed by the now flattened schools, medical centers, and churches. I visited the only grocery story in the center of Les Cayes, marveling at the offerings inside with my travel companions. I’ve heard the grocery store is gone, leaving residents without a place to purchase food and water.
The roads we traversed in and around Les Cayes are some of the same ones that are now blocked by rocks and other debris because of landslides.
The streets are also flooded because the shaking earth snapped water pipes, leaving residents without clean drinking water.
I wonder what happened to these children that we saw walking to school? Did they survive? Did their parents?
I think about the homes that I visited in Camp-Perrin, especially this lovely one owned by an older couple who operated a sewing school inside.
Spending time with them was like spending time with grandparents. They were welcoming, gracious, and had set their table for a conversation over tea.
I could tell they were proud to share their school and work with us even though gaping holes in their roof threatened the many gorgeous handmade quilts and embroidery on the tables below.
When I first heard the news of the earthquake, I thought of this couple. It was days before I heard that they were ok.
I’m relieved yet sad. They survived Hurricane Matthew in 2016 only to be subjected to the 7.2 earthquake and Tropical Storm Grace.
Dèyè mòn gen mòn.
During my first trip to Haiti, I was introduced to this Haitian proverb that means “beyond mountains there are mountains.”
Rather than the proverb being about Haiti’s mountainous landscape, it refers to solving one problem and another one presenting itself right after. Nothing could be more true right now.
The 1-2 Punch: Earthquake Relief Efforts Hampered by Tropical Storm Grace
As if an earthquake wasn’t enough, Tropical Storm Grace passed directly over the same area just two days later. Heavy winds and rains battered the island. Up to 15 inches of rain fell in some areas, causing flash flooding and mudslides and further complicating relief efforts that were underway to free people trapped under the rubble.
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) has said the tropical storm exposes “an already vulnerable population to a double impact in a matter of days.”
Rubble removal is a delicate process that can’t be done with machinery during search and rescue operations. Seeing Haitians dig through rubble with their hands brings back memories of footage I watched after the 2010 quake. I see the desperation on their faces as they cling to hope that they’ll find loved ones with each bit of concrete lifted away.
The hospitals in the southern Haiti peninsula are overwhelmed. US Coast Guard helicopters are on the ground working with local personnel to transport the injured but urgent health needs exist. Medical personnel (general and specialists), medicines and medical supplies (anesthetic drug, orthopedic external fixators, among others) and logistical support for the delivery of supplies is needed along with deployment of people and transfer of patients.
UN OCHA reports “Severe humanitarian access constraints and fragile security situation greatly complicate the humanitarian response in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
A Brief History of Haiti Relief Efforts
After the 2010 earthquake, established aid organizations with a long history of being in Haiti competed with a lot of new operations that were set up to accept charitable donations. Unfortunately, some of these organizations misspent funds earmarked for rebuilding efforts. For more information, read this NPR piece: In Search of the Red Cross’ $500 Million in Haiti Relief.
At the same time, benevolent charity groups brought and sent used clothing donated by community members. Some items were directly donated to communities but the huge influx of used items created a new industry. Ships arrived with containers full of donated clothing.
Entrepreneurial Haitians seized upon this opportunity, buying used clothing, shoes, belts, and other donated items at the docks. They set up shop on the streets and sold items for less than what local seamstress or cobblers would charge for new items. Such industries quickly disappeared from Port au Prince since there was no longer a need for their services.
In a brief interview with The Washington Post, Haiti’s Prime Minister Ariel Henry said he “discouraged” charity groups from coming to Haiti and distributing supplies themselves.
“We do not say ‘help’ without knowing what we want,” said Prime Minister Henry. “We don’t just go and ask for help.”
4 Ways to Help Provide Earthquake Relief for Haiti
So many of you have reached out to ask how you can help provide earthquake relief for Haiti. Below you’ll find 8 trusted organizations that will ensure your money goes to good use, companies who use fair trade practices to support sustainable jobs in Haiti, and why donating airline miles can help.
1. Donate to Any of these 8 Trusted Organizations That Help Provide Earthquake Relief to Haiti
One of the most critical pieces of knowledge I’ve learned over the past 9 years of traveling to Haiti is to support established organizations that have a history of helping the most affected communities. These organizations are the most effective because they can quickly mobilize staff, materials, and equipment to provide immediate relief.
Here is a list of 8 trusted organizations whose work I’ve witnessed first-hand and others that I know are established, reputable, and have been providing immediate assistance.
Project St. Anne is located in Camp-Perrin, one of the areas most affected by the earthquake and tropical storm. Through their work, they transform lives through community development and education. Their efforts to provide educational, nutritional, and financial support have a direct positive impact on Haiti’s children. Donate to Project St. Anne’s website or to their Zelle account (PSAHAITI @ projectstanne.org).
Haiti Air Ambulance is a nonprofit dedicated to providing emergency helicopter services and is the only helicopter ambulance service in Haiti. Since the earthquake, they’ve been flying critically ill or injured patients away from disaster areas to hospitals that can receive them and doctors, nurses, and vital supplies to Southern Haiti. 100% of all donations go towards their 24/7 efforts that ensure “patients can reach doctors safely, children can get back to school, and parents can make it back home.” Haiti Air Ambulance’s services are essential due to remoteness of Southern Haiti and shortage of medical facilities and supplies. Donate to Haiti Air Ambulance here.
Haitian Health Foundation’s (HHF) mission is to improve the health and well-being of women, children, families and communities living in the greater Jérémie region of Haiti through healthcare, education and community development. They are currently working to treat hundreds of injured at their main clinic and in the field, transport the seriously wounded in their emergency transport vehicle, share medical supplies and medicines with local hospitals, and providing radiography and sonography services for many patients. They’re also arranging for tents as protection for patients with PTSD who are fearful of coming inside for care and coordinating with other NGOs to ensure critical services are available for the community within the first days following the earthquake. HHF has also partnered with World Central Kitchen (one of my favorite organizations!) to deliver. Donate to Haitian Health Foundation here.
Fonkoze has empowered Haitians to lift families out of poverty for the last 26 years. Their programs provide life-changing tools, resources and training to break the cycle of poverty and prepare for unforeseen challenges such as pandemics, natural disasters, and more. Fonkoze’s programs and services have always provided Haitians living in most remote parts of the country access to financial and development services needed to lift their families out of poverty. Since over 90% of Fonkoze’s branches located in rural Haiti, they’re well aware of the needs of earthquake victims because these families are their community. Donate to Fonkoze here.
Partners in Health (PIH) is known locally as Zanmi Lasante and is the largest non-governmental healthcare provider in Haiti. Working in conjunction with the Haitian Ministry of Heath, PIH has a network of 15 clinics and hospitals across Haiti that serve 1.3 million people. They organized staff and supplies to provide an immediate response. PIH has an incredible reputation for bringing much needed healthcare to Haiti. Donate to Partners in Health here.
CORE is amazing because they worked to rebuild communities and provide proper infrastructure as they relocated families as they transitioned from camp life to safe communities after the 2010 earthquake. During my first trip to Haiti I visited the tent camp that occupied a once-tony golf course in the affluent Petion-ville neighborhood of Port au Prince. Three years after my first visit, CORE had relocated those living in tents into communities with new homes. Homes had been constructed with rebar according to new building standards that would be better able to withstand a natural disaster. New schools had opened, hospitals were staffed with Haitian healthcare workers, and CORE was working directly with residents to teach them how to build and maintain their new communities. Today, in response to the earthquake, they’re providing critical medical relief, emergency shelters, food, water, and essential resources. Donate to CORE here.
ProDev’s mission is to develop, manage and support schools and centers in underserved communities. The teacher in me will always be passionate about kids and education and I applaud them for their efforts for the simple reason that they believe that only education can create a stronger Haiti. Donate to ProDev here.
Save the Children has been in Haiti for over 30 years and has a history of responding to natural disasters, including the 2010 earthquake and Hurricane Matthew. Teams are currently on the ground working to respond to needs of children that include providing water purification tablets, supplies to construct emergency shelters, and nutritious foods for families in crisis. Donate directly to the Save the Children 2021 Haiti Earthquake Crisis Relief Fund.
2. Shop Trade Not Aid Items from Haiti
How we spend our money matters. When you buy fair trade products handmade by Haitian artisans, you’re supporting a woman, a family, and a community.
Here are some of my favorite companies that provide sustainable jobs for Haitian women. Thanks for considering a purchase to support Haiti’s artisan sector.
- Catalyst Collections’ Fanm Limye line for fair trade home goods made by a network of Haitian women candel makers, metal workers, and beekeppers
- Haiti Projectsfor gorgeous hand embroidered pieces made in Southern Haiti
- Haiti Design Co. for artisan crafted leatherwork, textiles, jewelry, metal work, beadwork, horn & bone, shoes, and more
- Pascale Theard for the most gorgeous hand beaded products made out of buttery soft leather *swoon*
- Simbi Haiti handmade bracelets, headbands, and necklaces provide clean water and sustainable jobs in Haiti. I had the pleasure of meeting founder, Lori, during one of my trips to Port au Prince. She’s the real deal with a heart of gold who is accepting PayPal donations to personally deliver medical supplies, toiletries, and basic needs on the ground in Haiti immediately.
3. Contact Me About Donating Airline Miles
I personally know people who have lost everything because of the earthquake, including a wonderful young woman I’ll call Genevieve. I’d always see Genevieve when visiting the artisan offices in Port au Prince. She was stylish, petite, and spoke perfect English with a lovely French accent. You could always count on Genevieve to be friendly, organized, and quick with a smile.
I loved it when I made purchases at the artisans offices and Genevieve would hand me a receipt. She wrote her numbers with a little curl that made my receipts like little treasures. While she seemed relaxed when I saw her, I knew she was a hard worker.
In the years I knew Genevieve, she got married and had a baby. I remember hearing the news of her pregnancy before a trip and buying baby gifts to bring on my next trip. I followed Genevieve’s path through a friend of mine after she left the place she worked where we first met. She always seemed to be doing well until I heard she and her family lost her home in the earthquake.
Not only is Genevieve homeless but her family and her husband’s family’s homes have also collapsed. Genevieve and her family, along with her parents and in-laws, have split up in order to take shelter with friends for the time being.
Genevieve and her husband are working on a Plan B since their Plan A was destroyed by the earthquake. Genevieve’s husband has a visa to come to the United States and their current Plan B involves getting him from to Miami to find work.
I am looking for someone who might have extra airline miles on American Airlines, JetBlue, or Spirit to help Genevieve’s husband fly from Port au Prince to Miami. If you, or someone you know, has airline miles that you don’t plan to use and could be used for a flight, please contact me. Simply fill out the comment form on this post, email me (techsavvymama -at- gmail), or have them DM me on Twitter or Instagram.
I would greatly appreciate your help for this dear friend and her family as they work rebuild their lives.
4. Share this Post
Thank you for trusting me to share my experiences from years of traveling to Haiti and caring enough to read this very long post. All the resources above have been vetted by people I’ve worked with in Haiti for years so I appreciate you sharing it with those you know.
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Spreading the word on effective ways to help Haiti will make all the difference in getting Haitians the help they need. Friends in Haiti thank you for anything and everything you can do!
This is not a sponsored post. Past trips to Haiti have been personally paid for or subsidized by grant funds to aid my travel to help artisans.