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Haiti Part 3 – what we can do

My full time job involves helping young leaders volunteer in the developing world for the less fortunate. And yet when I think about how to best help Haiti, I can’t rightfully recommend a volunteer organization there. Though there are probably some great orgs in Haiti, I’m not aware of them. I’m also deeply concerned about the country becoming NGO dependent.

After a lot of thought my best suggestion for the average person who wants to help Haiti is to donate money to organizations that are doing one of the two things below. However, if you’re interested in being a hero (or anywhere else) you can just jump down to the last section.

1) Helping individuals and communities develop stability.

One of the most effective approaches to helping individuals and communities develop stability is by fostering a local economy. Microlending is an excellent tool for this.

Unfortunately my preferred microlending group, Kiva, doesn’t currently have operations in Haiti, (though I’ve been told they will soon). In the interim, consider donating to Finca.org – another great program doing work in Haiti.

Another option is to help foster food stability through donating to the Heifer Foundation. In short the Heifer Foundation gives farm animals to poor communities and who use them for food and crop production. You can donate to Heifer’s project in Haiti here.

2) Helping individuals and communities access necessities.

The organization I was working with, RES, does great work feeding homeless children who are not served by other NGOs or non-profits. You can donate to RES here. [I will be profiling RES and their work in Haiti soon].

Roots of Development helps neglected communities get clean water. The inability to access clean water is one of the biggest killers in the world. You can donate here.

But what if you really want to be a hero for Haiti (or anywhere else)?

The fact of the matter is that the developing world doesn’t necessarily need more NGO’s, more cash donations (though I stand behind all of the organizations I recommend donating to here) or more people with Masters of International Development trying to run the show.

Instead, the developing world could benefit from well-educated experts and deeply intelligent people who are willing to make big commitments to the country they are trying to serve. While many populations are well served by volunteers who spend a few weeks or months on site, I believe that Haiti will best benefit from people who make long term commitments to the country.

This involves serious amounts of time on the ground (I’m talking 2+ years) met by more time in the Western world using your connections to benefit Haiti.

If you’re willing to make this type of commitment then consider yourself a true hero. My suggestion to you is to study one of the following: urban planning, education, agriculture, economics, medicine, or engineering. Become an expert. Then move to Haiti (or anywhere less fortunate than where you are now) and spend several years training other people to be experts in your subject matter. Make sure that you are creating sustainable programs that can (and will) exist in your absence. If you do this you will create more of a positive impact than you can possibly imagine.

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