Wednesday, January 13, 2010

"Today, we are all Haitians."

Many stories are pouring in about local charities making pledges of aid to earthquake devastated Haiti. Tuesday, Haiti suffered a 7.0 Richter quake that destroyed the city of Port-au-Prince.

The International Red Cross has set up a relief fund for Haiti. In this Christian Science Monitor story that we found at KMIR, writer Sara Miller Llana records a quote from the Red Cross and provides one bright spot to the story.

International Red Cross spokesman Paul Conneally said an estimated 3 million people may have been affected by the quake and that it would take a day or two for a clear picture of scope of the destruction to emerge

Thousands of structures – from government and United Nations buildings to the millions of shacks that line the impoverished nation's capital, Port-au-Prince – have been reduced to rubble.

Few countries are as vulnerable to natural disaster as Haiti, the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere. Wracked by political instability and poverty, and hammered by a series of hurricanes in 2008, Haiti faces a tough recovery ahead. But as the nation digs itself out of the confusion and rubble, there is a bright spot: with the UN peacekeeping force already on the ground and an army of international aid organizations with a long presence in Haiti, recovery efforts might be more coordinated and well-oiled than in other disaster zones.

"The good news is that there are many, many organizations in Haiti," says Elizabeth Furst Frank, vice president of global program operations at AmeriCares, which is sending medical aid to Haiti, where the US-based group has had a presence for 25 years. "So you'll see a faster response faster than in Myanmar after the cyclone, because so many NGOs are well-established and will be responding in any number of ways."

A charity from our home state of Michigan that started a orphanage in Haiti says it is no longer standing. WWMT talked to the Haiti Foundation Against Poverty.

Grand Rapids native Mallery Thurlow started the Haiti Foundation Against Poverty in 2006, working to bring awareness and raise funds and supplies.

We spoke to her over the phone late Tuesday night as she was packing up to head to the country, hoping to get there this weekend to provide aid.

She told us she has spoken to multiple people there in Haiti and the destruction is devastating.

An orphanage her organization helped start has been leveled and some handicapped children are stuck in side.

She's unsure if the school they assist is still standing.

KY3 news in Springfield, Missouri reprinted this press release from a local charity that is on their way to Port-au-Prince.

Convoy of Hope is establishing an emergency command center just outside the city of Port-au-Prince where food, water and supplies will be distributed to victims of the earthquake that rocked Haiti on Tuesday.

“Our Haiti country director is on the ground and we are working closely with our partners to check on the children we feed and also to assist victims with immediate needs,” says Hal Donaldson, founder and president of Convoy of Hope. “We have a warehouse in Haiti and have food and supplies immediately available to those in need. In the next few days several more containers filled with relief supplies will be prepared and shipped immediately to Haiti.”

Initial reports indicate that many buildings, homes and walls toppled under the strain of the earthquake. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Many of its nearly 10 million residents live in abject poverty.

For several years Convoy of Hope has worked in Haiti and currently feeds 7,000 children there each day.

Finally, columnist Nicholas Kristof invokes a slogan from 9/11 and updates it to the disaster in Haiti.

After 9/11, the French newspaper Le Monde declared: We Are All Americans. And after yesterday’s earthquake: Today, we are all Haitians. No country seems to have had worse luck with misrule, environmental mismanagement, natural disasters and poor governance than Haiti. And now the earthquake.

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