The Disaster of the Century: How to Help Haiti

It is hard to imagine the enormity of the pain and tragedy caused by the earthquake in Haiti, which has left the capital city of Port-au-Prince in ruins. The damage is catastrophic; more than two million people have been affected, tens of thousands have died, and uncountable numbers of people injured. It is truly the disaster of the century.

We at AlterNet want to do all we can to assist in the saving of lives, the protection of the survivors and the rebuilding of a safe environment for all the people of Haiti. At this point, making financial contributions to the groups with strong track records seems the best avenue to take. From our earned advertising revenue in 2009, AlterNet will make a contribution of $250 to each of the groups listed below, totaling $2,000. Of course, we need the money, but the people of Haiti are in such dire straits they need it far more. We hope you can join us in making a contribution, even a small one. In this case every dollar literally helps save lives.

There is also an important political action you can take by strongly urging President Obama to grant Temporary Protected Status to Haitians living in the U.S. (See more details below.)

Many of you will be receiving e-mail messages from five of our advertising partners in the next two days. These groups deserve your support:

  • CARE has deployed emergency team members to Port-au-Prince to assist in recovery efforts. They're focusing their efforts on rescuing children who may still be trapped in schools that collapsed.
  • Oxfam has four offices in Haiti and over 200 highly experienced aid workers on the ground. They are already responding to the situation where assistance is most needed.
  • AmeriCares has already committed $5 million in medical and humanitarian aid, is sending emergency response experts to Haiti, and is currently preparing an emergency airlift to their partners in Haiti.
  • Action Aid's Strategic Crisis Fund coordinates immediate disbursement of funds for rapid humanitarian response, and is providing medicines, food and shelter to people in need.
  • MADRE has activated an emergency response through its partner organization, Zanmi Lasante Clinic. The most urgent needs right now are bandages, broad-spectrum antibiotics and other medical supplies, as well as water tablets to prevent cholera outbreaks.The doctors, nurses and community health workers there are working to get medical assistance and supplies to areas that have been hardest hit.

Other important groups are also doing essential work:

Doctors Without Borders operates one of the only free trauma centers in Port-au-Prince as well as an emergency hospital in the capital for pregnant women, new mothers and newborns. All three of its primary medical centers have collapsed, but DWB has already set up temporary shelters and is offering emergency care on the ground.

If you want to do something immediately, text "Yele" to 501501 to donate $5 to Yele Haiti charged to your phone -- Famous musician Wyclef Jean (@wyclef) created this foundation to permanently improve the lives of the most impoverished people in his home country of Haiti. The L.A. Times reports that Wyclef has already helped raised $400,000 through Yele Haiti for the disaster.

Donate to Partners in Health-- PIH (@pih_org) is already on the ground in Haiti and mobilizing relief efforts. This is the organization Paul Farmer co-founded, working to provide health care and education to Haiti's poorest.

There is an important political action to take:

Join our partners Credo Mobile and Tell Obama to grant Temporary Protected Status to Haitians living in the U.S.

President Obama has ordered his Department of Homeland Security to temporarily halt all forcible deportations to the disaster zone, but this falls far short of what human rights groups are asking for. He must immediately grant Temporary Protected Status to undocumented Haitian refugees in the U.S. Refugees from El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Somalia and Sudan are afforded this status. To refuse to do so for Haitians would be irresponsible and immoral.

Click here to take action.


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