Haiti is everything you assume it to be as far as poverty and destruction. The destruction is so devastating because the country was already in such disarray from the poverty and inadequate infrastructure prior to the earthquake.
While much good has been done since the earthquake and there are many good organizations helping, the ones making the most effective and significant impact are those that were there before the earthquake. They understand the culture, people, and needs best.
One gentleman sitting next to a member of our team on the plane from Miami to Port Au Prince had some good insight to the condition of Haiti. This man has lived in the US for 20+ years. He is a teacher. A native of Haiti, he is moving back to help make a difference to change the direction of his homeland. He did not speak highly of many relief organizations due to the manner in which they offer assistance. He cited one example of a group that started a home and feeding program for single pregnant women. The rate of single pregnant women in that area grew dramatically because they could have a place to stay and food to eat. Another example included orphanages being built and families abandoning their children so that someone else would provide for them. He made a statement that we found quite profound, “[too many relief organizations] are just empowering the poor to remain impoverished.”
It is easy for Americans to look at a country and situation like Haiti and think that money is the total answer. Since the earthquake in mid January, over $3 billion of private money has poured into Haiti from the US alone. While this is inspiring that so many have given, it is disheartening to see that the impact is not what would be expected. Many who gave a few months ago give no more thought to Haiti because they “did their part”. Money is not the end answer to the magnitude of problems that Haiti faces. this country needs a change. Not a change to think more American. A change to be more self-sufficient. A change to create a new culture within their context. A change to move beyond the perpetuated poverty and rise above. A change that the people of Haiti must work and strive for. A change that only God can bring.
Yes, we need to continue to give to help the people of Haiti. But, we need to do our homework and make sure that the organization(s) we give to are making a real difference to raise up a new generation and not just handing out free stuff to appease our immediate sensibilities.
To find out more about relief efforts in Haiti as well as around the world, go to www.convoyofhope.org
Feel free to weigh in with your thoughts.