Today marks the one-year anniversary of the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in Haiti. Causing catastrophic destruction in the hemisphere’s poorest nation, the ghastly death toll eventually reached 316,000 people, as Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive told a news conference today. Millions more are still being harshly affected by lack of water, shelter and food.
Dr. Lloyd Sederer underscored the severity of the current crisis in an important post at Huffington Post:
"The majority of Haitians have a lifespan shortened by malnutrition, infectious disease (including HIV and tuberculosis), poor maternal health care, environmental destruction, and the toll of back-breaking labor. The earthquake brought additional plagues. One of these has been a cholera epidemic engendered by poor access to clean water (already a problem before the earthquake), poor management of sewage, limited access to coordinated health care and poor routes of public health communication — all problems of the sort we call in medicine ‘pre-existing conditions,’ but exponentially worsened by social disruption and the re-organization of the population in Port au Prince into fundamentally unsound living conditions — barely alleviated by only a fraction of the external aid that was promised."
Last year I posted a roundup of groups on the ground to support conducting critical relief and reconstruction and Nation readers were extremely generous. The problems, unfortunately, are still beyond grave and there are numerous ways to continue to help.
Founded and run by Haitian rape survivors, FAVILEK (Women Victims Get Up Stand Up) assists victims with medical, legal, and moral support, in addition to building a movement against sexual violence.
Providing assistance and support to grassroots environmental, women’s, and human-rights groups, KONPAY (Working Together for Haiti) has also fought to get Haitian voices included in foreign-run relief and reconstruction meetings.
In addition to providing legal support to Haitians and creating a force of Haitian human-rights lawyers and advocates with its partner, Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, the Boston-based Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti publishes extensive reports that keep a light on conditions in the displacement camps.
Other worthy groups which have been on the ground since beofre last year’s crisis struck include Partners In Health, operating in the country since 1987 originally to deliver health care to the residents of Haiti’s mountainous Central Plateau region. PiH now also operates clinics in Port au Prince and other major Haitian cities.
The women’s group MADRE has also worked in Haiti for many years, supporting community-based organizations, and it established an emergency earthquake response through its partner organization, Zanmi Lasante Clinic.
Teams from the group Doctors Without Borders were already working on medical projects in Haiti when the quake hit. Gifts to to the group’s Haiti Earthquake Response support emergency medical care for the men, women, and children affected by the earthquake in Haiti.
Grassroots International set up a still-active emergency fund to assist its Haitian partners–local organizations that have been working for years for a sustainable and socially just future for Haiti.
Oxfam’s Latin America emergency response team carries a strong track record of supporting local rebuilding rather than funneling money to outside contractors.
The University of the People (UoPeople), a non-profit organization, is currently seeking funds to expand its presence in Haiti and fulfill its commitment to reach 250 students. With financial support, UoPeople will establish additional computer and resource centers in the coming months and years.
The controversial singer and erstwhile presidential candidate Wyclef Jean recently teamed up with designer Donna Karan and fashion photographer Marc Baptiste in New York City for "The Truth Exhibition"– an event that auctioned off several of Baptiste’s photos of Haiti, raising thousands for the country in partnership with Karan’s Urban Zen Foundation, which provides shelter and survival kits to Haiti.
Please use the comments field below to let me know about other worthy groups working in Haiti.