After recently returning from two weeks in Haiti, the number one thing I am asked by people is “what can I do to help?” While donating to worthy causes like Partners in Health, the organization I was there with, is important, I have realized that people are much more interested in giving if they know that their money is helping in a concrete way. As a result, I put together the list below with a few specific ways that you can have supplies delivered to people in need. Feel free to do your own research but I can assure you that I have vetted each of these organizations and your money will be used to aid affected people in the ways indicated.
Tents and Tarps: 1,000,000 people are without homes and living in temporary shelters made out of whatever they can find, usually sheets. One of the “tent” cities I was in had upwards of 20,000 people with no sewage. When the rains start for real, these “cities” are going to turn into breeding grounds for disease and tens of thousands will die if they don’t get real shelter immediately. In an attempt at full disclosure I found an article on why sending tents may be a bad idea, but having been there and seen the situation firsthand, I don’t agree with their thinking.
If you have a used good condition tent that is waterproof or plastic tarps in good condition you can send them to the address listed below. I spent a good deal of time on the phone with the folks at Mark Richey Woodworking and can vouch for them. They are collecting tents, palletizing them and shipping them to Florida. There, Partners in Health is taking them into Haiti and giving them to people in need. So far they have sent over 2000 pounds of tents!
If you want to buy a new tent or tarp you can ship them yourselves, or buy off the Internet and have them shipped. If you don’t know anything about tents, REI is pretty reliable for carrying good quality stuff. Mention that they are heading down to Haiti and you may get a discount. You may want to check Craigslist for used tents and send more. Also Amazon and Sierra Trading Post may offer free shipping or discounts.
As far as what to look for, size can go either way. Smaller tents are easier to find places for while bigger tents will keep families together and offer more room during long periods of rain. The main key is that they are waterproof and with tents, the higher priced models are usually the better ones as far as durability, so if you are on a budget, get a more expensive smaller tent that will last as opposed to the same priced larger tent.
Send tents and tarps to:
Mark Richey Woodworking
40 Parker Street
Newburyport, MA 01950-4056
ATTN: Dave Jazz
If you have or have collected a lot of money and want to buy a large number of tents, you may want to contact one of the manufacturers and explain what you are doing as they will most likely be willing to offer a discount for bulk.
Crayons: I know this sounds nuts but the kids that I saw sitting in hospitals had very little to do. I mentioned the idea of a crayon drive to the folks at St Damiens Childrens Hospital and The Friends of The Orphans and they thought this was a great idea. Kids can do this which is a great way to get them involved. Get your school or religious organization to start a crayon drive (used and/or new). Classes can challenge each other to see who can collect more. Once you have a large box or two, shoot me a message here at Care2 and I can give you an address in Florida to send them to and they’ll send them off to Haiti with their supplies. They asked I handle it this way so that they don’t get 1000 small packages.
Volunteer: I’m looking into who is looking for what volunteers, but right now, if you are a doctor and can spare time to head to Haiti, Partners in Health has a sign up sheet here. They also need volunteers in their offices in Boston as well.