DENVER, Colo. — Haiti is a nation with a deep history of struggles, from its geography to its systemic failures. With the recent earthquake that left thousands dead, U.S. private organizations are sending resources and personnel to help with relief efforts.
“There’s still a whole lot of trauma in that country,” said Erin Ulric, with Locally Haiti. “I think it’s a piling of things on top of each other. They’re not just dealing with an earthquake, but they’ve been dealing with a government that’s been dysfunctional for a while and a president that was assassinated just a month ago. They’re also dealing with COVID.”
A 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Haiti took more than 2,000 lives, decimated homes, schools, and churches, and left hospitals overwhelmed with thousands of people injured.
“Petit Trou is five miles from the epicenter of the quake,” said Wynn Walent with Locally Haiti. “There’s lots of damage. There are needs of all kinds. The biggest needs right now are shelter, food, water – basic needs. One of the reasons the earthquake in 2010 has been a source of frustration for folks in Haiti – a lot of the resources represents pledges or organizations who haven’t been proven effective to get the aid to the Haitian people.”
A 2015 investigation from ProPublica and National Public Radio found that the Red Cross overstated how it spent $500 million raised for the 2010 Haitian earthquake.
The American Red Cross is now currently accepting donations and providing relief for Haiti, but said in a recent statement, “We are asking the American public to donate to the charity of their choice to help those in need — be it a local organization or an international aid agency."
Now, nonprofit organizations are stepping up, sending help and donations themselves.
“Because of our long relationships and real long-term connections, we were able to pivot really quickly to help in an emergency immediately,” Walent said.
Walen, during this time of his interview with The E.W. Scripps Company, was on his way to Haiti bringing supplies to start rebuilding communities affected by the deadly Earthquake.
“In addition, we’ve also sent a structural engineer. There are so many people and institutions that are going to be faced with these impossible decisions knowing that their homes and offices are damaged and having no resources to do anything in that moment,” Walent said. “We’ve started to build provisional structures for people to sleep and eat and to be out of the rain.”
“For all this, you have to have community leaders that you trust that can help guide the process,” Ulric said. “There’s also the aspect of 100% of donated funds are going into the hands of Haitian people. What can be bought in Haiti should be bought in Haiti. What can be bought hyper-locally is being bought there. The markets are still functioning let’s buy food there not ship it from Miami. So, it’s really making sure that we’re utilizing the resources that are already there locally to help incentivize their economy to prevent them from experiencing more damage post-earthquake.”
Nonprofit groups like Locally Haiti will start their work with shelters and later work with local engineers to look at structural systems in that community. They also want to ensure that donations and resources get into the proper hands in Haiti.