On January 12, 2010, a magnitude 7 earthquake hit Haiti’s most heavily-populated area. The aftermath, much of which wouldn’t be realized and counted until months and years later, was unimaginable. According to NPR,

“The earthquake’s main shock lasted almost 30 seconds. A series of aftershocks soon followed. An estimated 220,000 died, though Haiti’s official estimates are higher. Some 1.5 million people were displaced, according to the International Organization for Migration. About 300,000 were injured, and large parts of the country were buried under tons of twisted metal and concrete.”

Now, ten years later, Haiti still struggles to rebuild. Much of the promised aid from NGOs and foreign governments never made it to the island nation. And many of the projects that got off the ground were drastically scaled back due to incorrect estimates and difficulty in execution. 

The same NPR article stated:

“…an NPR investigation five years after the quake found that the American Red Cross, which took in half a billion dollars from U.S. donors, had only built six permanent homes, not the 132,000 it had claimed. The Red Cross disputed NPR’s reports and objected to findings of opaque bookkeeping and exorbitant overhead costs.”

The truth is, international development is difficult in the best of times. Even as the world longed to support the people of Haiti, many of their efforts went awry. Why?

Donate to Nonprofits with a history

Many outside organizations were eager to lend their support, but we believe it is better to donate and support organizations with an existing history of working within the country. Organizations like Partners in Health have decades of experience on-the-ground and an existing network of staff, contacts, and volunteers.

If you are looking for ways to make a difference in areas impacted by natural disaster, do your research and select the organization you believe will make an impact quickly and cost-efficiently.

Give in good times and bad

Many developed nations would have been able to weather the same earthquake that struck Haiti with far less loss of life and disruption of basic services. Port-au-prince is not a capital of skyscrapers and subways. Most of the buildings are just a few floors tall. But poverty has kept the city from building safely. To avoid catastrophes, a country must be able to prepare ahead of time. That means a strong infrastructure, safe building codes, and a government that can respond quickly.

Which in turns means, the best way we can support developing nations is not after a disaster. It’s by believing in them before.

CRDF works to bring education to rural Haiti on an ongoing basis because we believe the best investment we can make in the future of our students is through regular support during childhood.

Use your platform to generate awareness

The news coming out of Haiti is a small part of our American news cycle, but it’s not a small thing for a child who doesn’t have a home. You can be the difference in driving donations and support to credible outlets. And vet your news sources. Even just a few clicks on a Twitter thread can tell you if the photograph is even from the country the tag-line says it is from. The only way we can create solutions is with an accurate picture of what’s happening on the ground.

If you are looking for more information about the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, you can read this NPR article about Haiti ten years later or, check out Paul Farmer’s book Haiti: After the Earthquake.

Thank you for your support. Let’s do better for Haiti together, this next decade.