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Friday, January 15, 2010

Support Haitians, not aid industry

This just in from Sokari Ekine, creator of the award-winning blog, BlackLooks

It shows how ordinary Haitians, far from being the "pitiful helpless victims" depicted by global corporate media, are mobilizing in amazing ways, with virtually no resources, while governments and international aid organizations remain paralyzed by bureaucracy. It underscores the importance of getting any assistance directly to Haitians, and organizations already partnering with Haitians on the ground.

In August 2007, I visited Haiti to meet with Lavalas women. The trip was organized by Haiti Action, and I was able to meet many other activists on the ground as well. One of the women I met and stayed with was Rea. She is now using her home as a hospital and they are using whatever they can to tend to peoples' needs. Thousands of other Haitians are doing the same. Meanwhile, the aid agencies sit at the airport. Port-Au-Prince is quite a small but densely populated place. To say the aid agencies don't know how to go in, or have to wait - for what I am not sure - is stretching things a bit far.

Here is a list of organizations in Haiti to support, as recommended by Food First. All have strong records of effectiveness in Haiti, are Haitian-led, or partner with Haitians as equals, and work for justice and genuine democracy for Haiti.

1) Partners in Health -- Founded by Dr. Paul Farmer, this nonprofit health delivery program has served Haiti’s poor since 1987.

2) Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) -- Doctors Without Borders was working in Haiti prior to the quake with a staff of 800. Here is a report on January 13, 2009 with a link to their donation page.

3) Haiti Action-- Haiti’s grassroots movement – including labor unions, women’s groups, educators, human rights activists, support committees for prisoners and agricultural cooperatives – will attempt to funnel needed aid to those most hit by the earthquake. Grassroots organizers are doing what they can with the most limited of funds to make a difference.

4) Grassroots International -- has a long history of working with organizations on the ground in Haiti. Grassroots has committed to the extent possible to, “provide cash to our partners to make local purchases of the items they most need and to obtain food from farmers not hit by the disaster.”


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