Archive for Haiti Aid

Haiti – Two Years On!

Posted in Britain, Europe, Haiti, United Nations, USA with tags , , , , , on 13/01/2012 by floroy1942

It’s now two years since the devastating earthquake hit the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, killing 300,000 people and making more than 1.5 million homeless. Now two full years later, the same 1.5 million people are still living in squalid conditions in tents, and only half of the rubble that was Port-au-Prince has been cleared to allow new building.

Collecting the Dead

When the earth shook at 16.53 hrs on the 12th January 2010 Haiti’s capital was for a greater part destroyed and a third of its 900,000 population were killed. Aid arrived within days in an attempt to ease the suffering of the people, and more to the point, many billions of dollars were promised in aid by many nations to enable recovery. In truth, not much of the that money ever showed up where it was needed.

Rubble Clearance - A Massive Job

Some countries considered cancelling Haiti’s debt to themselves sufficient help in the country’s hour of need, as if  you can use a cancelled debt to house a family? In other cases only a fraction of the money actually arrived, some not at all. Many millions were raised by well known charities, and a year ago much of the donated money was still residing in bank accounts making interest because the organizations wanted to save the money for long term projects. Another year has not made much of a difference, except to the interest.

Tent City

As in most situations of this sort, a big part of the problem was corruption all along the money chain. Many people made fortunes out of siphoned off goods or cash. Meanwhile, some half-a-million Haitians still live in shocking conditions and disease is rife.

The President of Haiti, Michel Martelly has promised renewed efforts to re-house some 20,000 people, but in many areas the rubble from the destroyed buildings still lays where it fell.

Canada - Still On the Job!

Thankfully there is one country with a conscience, Canada, which is donating a further $20 million to get this necessary work completed. Despite this extra effort by the Canadian government it will still be many years before the scars left by the earthquake have disappeared, although many of the mental scars may never heal.

Roy

Haiti One Year On – So Where Is The Money?

Posted in Britain, Children, Christianity, England, Environment, Europe, Germany, Government Spending, Haiti, Health, UK, UN, United Nations, USA with tags , , , on 18/02/2011 by floroy1942

One Year On, Are These People Better Off?

How does it make you feel to know that donations given by you to aid the suffering in Haiti following the 2010 devastating earthquake remains in banks, while the people go hungry, and 98% of the damage remains uncleared? I must admit to a great anger at the many charity organisations that are reaping the benefits of other peoples misfortune.

Death and Destruction

The sort of money we are talking about is in the hundreds of millions, spread across various charities known around the world like the Red Cross and the Catholic Relief Fund. While the Haitian people are trying to make the best of their destroyed homes, suffer cholera outbreaks, hunger and death, the charities are holding on to the money that can alleviate this suffering, saying it will be used for long-term improvements in the country. By the time they get to releasing the funds there may not be many people left!

It Can Only Help If You Put It To Use!

While the people suffer, the urgently needed money sits in bank accounts across the world, no doubt making huge amounts of interest for the charity. All this goes to strengthen my long term belief that many charities these days are nothing more than another money-making racket.

I must admit I have not donated money to any of the big well-known charities for years based on this principal. For when I hear that so-and-so, chairman of such-and-such charity is on a salary of $400,000 a year it makes me think.

It's All In The Eyes Of A Child

If I donate $10, the people in need will see on average less than $2 after the charity has extracted all its costs (fair) and salaries (exorbitant)  from the amount. I find it most distasteful that the upper echelon of world charity organisations should earn such huge amounts when working for charity.

Money is given freely by the general public in the belief that it will help ease the suffering of those less fortunate, and it is a system that has worked for a very long time, until the ‘moneymen’ stepped in.

Working To Save Others - A Noble Task.

The sad thing is, most of the people who ask you for a donation, i.e. the collectors, are all unpaid volunteers who believe what they are doing is helping the unfortunates get their lives back together, and indeed saving lives. The sad truth is, they are first helping to line the pockets of individuals at the top of the tree taking home huge salaries at the expense of the victims they are supposedly trying to help. No matter how big the organization, it does not justify the sort of salary scales prevalent in the charity business.

But most damning of all, with relation to Haiti, the money is still floundering in banks instead of being used to relieve the suffering of the Haitian people by providing food, and essential equipment to get their towns and cities rebuilt. For me there is no excuse for delays in releasing the funds to get vital work done, like supplying fresh drinking water to combat the cholera outbreak.

We Have Barely Scratched The Surface.

Now, one year on, only a miserable 2% of the devastation suffered in Puerto Prince has been cleared. I know it is a huge job, and I know it takes time, but 2% in a whole year, that is not acceptable!

Perhaps the effort should be governed and co-ordinated by the United Nations to a greater degree than it is. Perhaps they should decide how the money is to be spent, and more importantly, when! For if it is left up to the charities themselves it could be another ten years before the Haitian people see the money.

It is perhaps time we let these charities know that when we, the people, donate freely to help others in need, our intention is for the money to go to the people not the bureaucrats.

Cholera Strikes!

To be fair, I know it costs money to collect and transport the requirements to any disaster area, and the specialists carrying out the work do need to be paid, and to be honest, I have no qualms about this. To buy and ship 10,000 tents for example needs a lot of cash, and I am sure no-one would disagree. It’s a shame however that many companies supplying the required goods do not feel justified in selling to the charities ‘at cost’ rather than insisting on their profit margin.

Ideal For The Task

I have long held the view that it would do no financial harm to a company making for example, excavators, bulldozers and trucks, to donate say a day’s production, perhaps four or five machines to the Haiti cause. The effort of rubble clearance in Puerto Prince could be greatly accelerated should some companies do this. Unfortunately we are talking big business, and the word charity has no meaning in such circles!

Red Cross Volunteer At Work

Thankfully, there are still aid organisations where more than 50% of donations go to their intended target, but you have to search really hard to find them, and I must also add, that while I may criticise many charity organisations, most are well-minded people who do a good job of work in relieving the suffering around the world. Without these aid groups, and in particular the people working for them, the world would be a sadder place.

Whichever way you look at it, the definition of the word charity has undergone some changes in recent decades, and no longer carries the full meaning it used to have. I can only hope that people can find a way to put pressure on the many organisations in this field.

Roy.



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