Dear Alice,

What can I do to help survivors of the earthquake in Haiti?

Dear Reader,

Your desire to support those people affected by the earthquake in Haiti is much appreciated. Whatever you have to give, there is an organization that can help you help others.

Currently, relief organizations on the ground in Haiti need donations to continue functioning and providing medical and humanitarian services. There are a number of ways to donate and a number of relief organizations to support.

One easy way for people in the U.S. to donate to the Red Cross, Yele Haiti (a foundation created by musician Wyclef Jean dedicated to improving the lives of people in Haiti) or to the Clinton Foundation is to text your donation. To donate $10 to the Red Cross, text "Haiti" to 90999. To donate $5 to Yele Haiti, text "Yele" to 501501. To donate $10 to the Clinton Foundation text "Haiti" to 20222. The donation amount will automatically be added to your monthly cell phone bill.

Other organizations providing relief include:

  • MercyCorps (humanitarian relief in Haiti)
  • Partners in Health (health care provider established in Haiti, accepting financial donations and seeking surgeons, trauma doctors and nurses, and surgical teams to volunteer in Haiti)
  • UNICEF (humanitarian relief in Haiti, specifically directed at children)
  • Architecture for Humanity (group of architects and builders dedicated to building shelters in devastated areas)
  • Oxfam (humanitarian relief in Haiti)
  • Care (humanitarian relief in Haiti)

The organizations above may also be seeking volunteers, for information on volunteer needs, check out an organization's website. While some organizations are seeking volunteers, well-wishers are advised not to travel to the region unless they are working through an organization. To get involved with the Red Cross, you can go online to VolunteerMatch to find a volunteer opportunity that fits your schedule and location. There are also these volunteer organizations, listed on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) website that can be helpful for finding something that works for you:

Another way you can help out during a disaster, or any other time, is by giving blood. During a crisis there is often an increased need for blood. Frequently after disasters, organizations often set up blood drives to help increase the supply, so keep your eyes and ears open for these opportunities. You can also go to the Red Cross Give Life site or call 1 800-GIVE-LIFE to find a place to donate.

Columbia students from Haiti and/or concerned about loved ones in Haiti may wish to speak with someone on campus. Students can call x4-2878 to make an appointment at Counseling and Psychological Services. To learn more about ways to get in touch with loved ones during an emergency, read Getting in touch during an emergency. Families of Americans living in Haiti are encouraged to contact the State Department at 888-407-4747. Keep in mind that major infrastructure in Haiti, including phone lines and Internet cables, were badly damaged and it may be days or weeks before general access to phone, Internet, email, and texting services is restored.

Helping out in the aftermath of the earthquake is very important, and any support you can give is appreciated. Keep in mind that before another disaster occurs, you can sign up for disaster training so that you will learn the skills to be a great help to those in need in future crisis events. On behalf of all the survivors and their families, thank you for your commitment to helping after the devastation in Haiti. Alice!

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