We all know about the great need for doctors, nurses, EMTs, paramedics, firefighters and trained hands on the ground in Haiti. Many potential volunteers are eager to help in the aftermath of all that Haiti has suffered but simply lack medical training. And for many, the time commitment to fly to Haiti and work in the country is simply too much with the hectic life of home and work. However, we can still help Haiti, even if we are incapable of getting into the country and doing the manual labor ourselves.
The first step to helping Haiti is research. You want to be informed and knowledgeable about the country, its needs and who is important there before you try to raise awareness and potentially spread misinformation. With the rapid speed of 24 hour news teams and constant updates of Twitter and blogs, finding the truth about Haiti can sometimes prove to be a daunting task. However, there are plenty of informative, knowledgeable people who have made Haiti a priority in their lives and provide sound advice on who’s who in Haiti. If you’re a member of the Twitter community, we suggest following individuals like Melissa Elliot (@melymello), Laurie Beth Moccio (@theGrottoTweets), Alison (@lightxxx), Aleda (@aledajd) or Bettie (@RVAREGal) and organizations such as @MissionMANNA or @Candoorg.
The next step is finding some favorites. Who’s your favorite charity? Whose work speaks to you? Which group seems to be helping Haiti the most? Who has unique ideas and innovative solutions? Find a charity or individual working in Haiti that you are truly passionate about (we hope it’s Global DIRT!) and learning more about them. Find out what type of work they do and what their needs are. Is this the type of organization that needs children’s clothes or the type that needs sterile medical supplies? Where can you donate? How can you help? Get the vital information of your new favorite charity or person and get ready to share the news.
Step three is raising awareness. People can become desensitized to the visions of the suffering in Haiti and the media all too frequently overlooks the important day-to-day happenings in the country. This step includes making sure that your friends, family, co-workers and others around you are aware that the people of Haiti still need our help. Remind them that a majority of the people displaced by the earthquake in January continue to live in tents, almost a year later. To raise awareness, you can tweet, post on Facebook, blog, hang posters in coffee shops…anything to get the word out! Encourage those around you to check out your favorite charity and include that charity in your posts about helping Haiti.
The fourth step is finding a way to help that charity. To do this, it is best to get creative! What are your best skills? Are you a great website developer? Offer some free services to your charity to help promote a new website. Are you a talented chef or great baker? Have a delicious bake sale to raise funds and awareness about your favorite organization’s work in Haiti. Have a birthday coming up? Ask friends to donate to your favorite charity in your name. Work with organizations that you are a member of to do food or clothing drives or to rally for new donations. Contact your favorite charity if you plan to hold a big donation drive to see if they have any materials to hand out or sell to encourage even more donations.
The last step to helping Haiti is commitment. Not everyone, we realize, can devote themselves full-time to bettering Haiti. However, with your new found knowledge of Haiti and those trying to help it, you are in a better position than most to keep the spirit alive. You don’t have to Tweet, post or blog about Haiti every day, but once in a while, remind those around you that Haiti still needs our help. Commit yourself to one day a month to Tweeting, Facebooking, blogging or handing out fliers about Haiti. Haiti cannot become a stronger country if it is forgotten because people have lost interest. Keep a keen eye on the news to catch new developments in the country and strike up conversations about it at work or with friends. If you keep the buzz about Haiti going, it will remain on more people’s radars and Haiti will not be forgotten.
Unfortunately, we cannot all go to Haiti at the same time and remove the rubble, help the ill and build new homes for those who have lost so much. Those who work on the ground in Haiti are incredibly important but your work outside of Haiti can be just as important too. Stay informed, keep talking about Haiti and spread the news of hard work. If we keep talking about Haiti, its troubles won’t be forgotten and Haiti will have a better chance to become a greater country than it was before the earthquake.