Helping in times of disaster

MSNBC writer JoNel Aleccia provides a helpful article entitled, “Disaster Do-gooders Can Actually Hinder Help”. Here is just a taste:

More than a week after a magnitude-7 earthquake devastated the country, disaster organizers say they’re seeing the first signs of a problem that can hinder even the most ambitious recovery efforts: good intentions gone wrong.

From volunteer medical teams who show up uninvited, to stateside donors who ship boxes of unusable household goods, misdirected compassion can actually tax scarce resources, costing time, money, energy — and lives, experts say.

To demonstrate the value of working with established organizations, the author writes:

Many agencies try to motivate donors with the mathematics of the situation. Jeff Nene, a spokesman for Convoy of Hope, a Springfield, Mo., agency that feeds 11,000 children a day in Haiti, urges cash donations that allow his group to buy in bulk from large suppliers and retailers.

“When people give $1, it translates into $7 in the field,” he said. “If they spend $5 for bottled water, that’s nice and it makes them feel good, but probably it costs us more than $5 to send it. If they give us $5, we can get $35 worth of water.”

While we all want to do something tangible to help, our helping must be well thought through. I encourage you to read the article, and think things through the next time you see a collection box or water drive for Haiti. If you want to help, we do have people who are on the ground, speak the language and live with the people who are in need.

If you are interested, Pastor Rigaud has ministered in Port-Au-Prince for decades, and a financial contribution to his organization would go a long way. You could learn more about this ministry here.


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