In today’s society we are at times over-exposed to extreme images and events through the media, now difficult to avoid, every day depicting neglect, violence, greed, disaster and impending doom. Too many people have become desensitized by this saturation of global plight and quickly insulate themselves with a shot of inane reality television to wash away any pangs of responsibility.
Let’s not forget the nightmare images we are seeing on television or through the internet are very real, not a tv drama and if anything are only a censored indication of the thousands of horrific stories evolving daily. Although distant in miles we should be united through our humanity.
Many of us in the blogosphere are fortunate to live in comfortable and secure circumstances. It is all too easy to take laptops, mobile phones and our other luxuries for granted, never mind clean water, medical attention, our families and our homes. Take one minute, close your eyes and imagine your home in ruins, your family missing and precious little practical help offering any respite at all.
Now do something about it.
There are many agencies already on the ground that need your help immediately. In reality all most of us can do is make a financial donation to a reputable cause, to begin to alleviate the suffering that the surviving people of Haiti are being forced to endure.
Many businesses are taking the initiative by offering direct financial support, products in-kind and making it easier for individuals to provide their assistance. If you own, manage or work for a business that wants to help (some may nned a nudge, don’t be scared, ask the boss, he can only say no, then ask him again, and again…), visit the UN Emergency Response for Business website for advice on the most effective way to offer your support. The Huffington Post has this great list of some of the bigger corporate responses so far if you need inspiration. Here’s the story from the Financial Times on the ‘Rush of corporate aid to Haiti’.
If you’re an individual, every donation helps, no matter how small, but please ensure you are choosing a reputable agency, as unfortunately there will be those out there looking to take advantage of the highly emotionally vulnerable. Stick with an organisation you know. Here’s a short list of good causes and what they do, that I’d vouch for to make sure your donation gets to where it’s needed most:
- UNICEF – is deploying clean water and sanitation supplies, therapeutic foods, medical supplies and temporary shelter to Jacmel and Port-au-Prince. UNICEF will also be focusing on children who have become separated from their families to protect them from harm or exploitation.
- CARE – plans to start food distributions using stocks of high-protein biscuits from CARE warehouses in Haiti. CARE has 133 staff who are on the ground coordinating with U.N. agencies and other aid organizations to gather more detailed information about the damage and will rapidly scale up response based on those assessments.
- YELE HAITI – a grassroots movement that builds global awareness for Haiti while helping to transform the country through programs in education, sports, the arts and environment, supported by Timberland and Wyclef Jean.
- DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS – provides independent, impartial assistance to those most in need. DWB/MSF reserves the right to speak out to bring attention to neglected crises, to challenge inadequacies or abuse of the aid system, and to advocate for improved medical treatments and protocols
- SAVE THE CHILDREN – providing vulnerable children with health, education, protection and food security programs.
It doesn’t really matter which agency you choose, but it does matter that you don’t pretend that real people in Haiti aren’t just another TV show.