My preference in giving is not to give quickly nor in times of disaster. There are plenty of people doing that and you don’t have to join the bandwagon. So stop feeling guilty and don’t give to get that monkey off your back. Instead, carefully investigate options and choose to make a longer-term, more strategic decision to truly partner with an organization.
Some have asked me who they should consider giving to following the Haiti earthquake. If you want to provide immediate assistance, send your funding through large corporate charities that had a well-established presence on the ground for years prior to the quake. I specifically recommend World Vision Canada with whom we’ve had a long term successful partnership. Their reputation speaks for itself. They specialize in disaster relief and their logistical ability to respond effectively is unequaled. CEO Dave Toycen is on the ground there now, and is tweeting his thoughts at @toycenontheroad. You can know that even though your immediate funding can be used for an urgent disaster, that WV will be present in Haiti for the long term. Poverty isn’t solved in a week.
For those who prefer a smaller, grassroots response my choice would be Haiti Partners. They have a significant history as a Florida-based charity focused on building schools and training teachers as a long term investment in the next generation of Haitians. They aren’t new to Haiti like some other agencies seeking funding for the Haiti quake. They speak Creole, their staff are Haitians. They’re now expanding their support base to offer Canadian donors an ability to partner with them. In fact, for months they’ve been planning that Sunday, January 24 would be the launch of their first Canadian fundraiser in Toronto.
At first sight the business resembles a thriving pottery. In a dusty courtyard women mould clay and water into hundreds of little platters and lay them out to harden under the Caribbean sun. The craftsmanship is rough and the finished products are uneven. But customers do not object. This is Cité Soleil, Haiti’s most notorious slum, and these platters are not to hold food. They are food. Brittle and gritty—and as revolting as they sound—these are “mud cakes”. For years they have been consumed by impoverished pregnant women seeking calcium, a risky and medically unproven supplement, but now the cakes have become a staple for entire families.
It is not for the taste and nutrition—smidgins of salt and margarine do not disguise what is essentially dirt, and the Guardian can testify that the aftertaste lingers - but because they are the cheapest and increasingly only way to fill bellies. “It stops the hunger,” said Marie-Carmelle Baptiste, 35, a producer, eyeing up her stock laid out in rows. She did not embroider their appeal. “You eat them when you have to.”