Listen, I’m no expert on Haiti, disaster relief, or reconstruction efforts – but since I’ve blogged about my experiences in Haiti, I felt the need to comment on two stories that surfaced yesterday.
ProPublica and NPR launched a joint investigation into the actions of the American Red Cross and the nearly $500 million the organization raised in response to the Haiti earthquake in 2010. ProPublica and NPR reported their findings yesterday – and the story isn’t very charitable to the Red Cross, which naturally is flat out denying the report.
I may have a cynical view of the Red Cross as well as the United Nations after visiting Haiti and seeing the tremendous work that groups within Haiti and run by Haitians have accomplished while also witnessing the lack of progress by more official groups like Red Cross and the UN. The NPR and ProPublic articles definitely highlight the importance of working with people on the ground and the people you plan to actually help, allowing them to drive decision making about priorities.
But more importantly, when you decide to donate for disaster relief or reconstruction efforts – say, for the recent tragedies in Nepal – make sure you know who you are donating to. I highly recommend you use organizations local to the area or country where the tragedy occurred. Also, never underestimate the need for medical supplies – a tangible object that can be donated instead of money.
Also – if you’re a healthcare professional interested in traveling to Haiti, I encourage you to visit the site of the METI Project at metiproject.org (METI Project is the organization that I have partnered with previously in Haiti). You can sign up on the website to attend future trips by the group and help the staff at St Luke’s Hospital.