In the aftermath of the earthquake that ravaged the Port-au-Prince region of Haiti Tuesday, one of the things on many people’s minds is how their friends and families are faring.
According to reports, the quake, which measured 7.0 on the Richter scale, has been followed by aftershocks no weaker in strength than 4.0, so Haitian residents are still currently experiencing the quake’s effects. Several organizations, including Red Cross, Oxfam, and Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) sent aid to Haiti this morning and are accepting donations to help save lives and provide food and medical equipment.
President Barack Obama gave remarks yesterday morning saying that Haiti has the full support of the United States in the urgent effort to rescue those injured and provide humanitarian relief. He said that USAID and the Departments of State and Defense would be working closely with its partners in Haiti, the surrounding region, and around the world. Obama also appointed Dr. Rajiv Shah, the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, as the government’s unified disaster coordinator in this crisis and in the future.
Obama directed those trying to locate family members in Haiti to call the State Department at 888-407-4747. If callers get a recording, due to the high volume of calls expected, they are encouraged to call back. He also directed those wanting to learn how they could contribute to the Haitian relief effort to go to www.whitehouse.gov. Obama pledged to the people of Haiti that they will have a friend and partner in the United States, today and going forward.
Haitian-born, Grammy award-winning hip-hop artist and producer Wyclef is contributing to the rescue and humanitarian efforts through his charity Yele Haiti. Those wanting to help can text the word “Yele” to 501501 on their cell phones to donate $5 to the Yele Haiti Earthquake Fund or you can visit Yele.org, click on “donate,” and give any amount you choose. You can also text the word Haiti to 90999 to donate $10 to the American Red Cross.
Some other organizations through which you can donate to the Haitian relief effort are Save the Children, UNICEF, Direct Relief International, International Medical Corps, Partners in Health, and World Vision.
Aid workers, journalists, and celebrities are tweeting and using their Facebook pages to encourage people to donate. Mercy Corps, AmeriCares, Operation USA, CARE, and many other aid groups are using Twitter to direct people to give on their Websites. Yele, Haiti, and Port-au-Prince were top trending topics.
The Congressional Black Caucus recommended that cash donations be sent to an established relief organization in Haiti right now, since the destruction of ports, airports, and roads will make the distribution of goods difficult. But charitable beware –The Better Business Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission warn against charity fraud as scammers often pop up in times of crisis when donations are widely solicited. Both sites offer a checklist for avoiding charity fraud.