In the aftermath of Tuesday’s devestating earthquake in Haiti’s capital city of Port-au-Prince, thousands have been left injured, stuck beneath rubble, and displaced, while hospitals, homes, and roads have been destroyed. The full extent of the damage will not be known for months.
Now, people around the world are coming together to assist in the relief efforts in one of the world’s poorest countries. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, known for their global awareness and international humanitarian campaigns, contributed $1 million from the Jolie-Pitt Foundation to Doctors Without Borders, which will provide emergency medical assistance in Haiti.
“We understand the first response is critical to serve the immediate needs of countless people who are now displaced from their homes, are suffering trauma, and most require urgent care,” Pitt told People.com.
Haiti may be thousands of miles away from where you live, but there are tons of ways to help with disaster relief efforts. No gesture is too big or too small, so here are 10 ways to help Haiti during its time of crisis.
1. Send a text. Help Wyclef Jean, one of Haiti’s most famous exports, by giving to his Yele Haiti fund. Make a $5 donation by texting “Yele” to 501501. To help the American Red Cross, dial ext “Haiti” to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Charges for both will be added to your next phone bill.
2. Go online. Relief efforts are building by the hour, and numerous organizations have made it easy to donate by simply going to their websites. Mercy Corp, Architecture for Humanity, and Direct Relief International are all safe organizations to contribute to.
3. Collect supplies and donate them to an established relief organization. OperationUSA and Partners in Health are in dire need of medical supplies, while the Haiti Earthquake Relief Center is coordinating shipments of food, water, tents, and clothing to troubled areas.
4. We know that times are tough financially, but if it’s possible, make a monetary donation— it’s the best contribution that you can make to Haitian relief efforts. As helpful as it is to run a food or clothing drive, it’s more effective to give money. This way, relief missions can purchase goods directly from non-damaged areas in Haiti, sustaining the local economy.
5. Help local organizations, too. Doctors and relief volunteers across the U.S. are organizing local relief trips to Haiti. These missions will need medical supplies, clothing, food, and children’s items. Check your local newspaper to see how you can help these hometown heroes.
6. Most power lines, cell phone towers, and local news stations are down, so it’s important to share any information you have from contact with friends and family from Haiti. Submit any knowledge of infrastructure issues (like road conditions and building collapses) to Ushahidi, which will display information on a map.
7. Inform yourself. Learning more about Haiti and its people will give you a better understanding of what types of assistance are needed.
8. Spread the word. Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter allow news to be disseminated in seconds. If you make a donation to an organization, tweet about it! Others will be sure to follow.
9. Media coverage will subside in a few months, but the need for assistance won’t. Continue to help by organizing drives or service trips in the future. Because of the magnitude of this natural disaster, it will take years for Haiti to bounce back. Keep the Haitian crisis on your radar by writing a reminder to “Help Haiti” in your July 2010 calendar.
10. Be wary of scams. It’s great that everyone wants to help, but be sure that your assistance is going to the right place. Ignore unsolicited appeals in emails and only respond to established relief organizations.