Since our original post on contributing to relief and recovery efforts in Haiti post-quake, the conversation has evolved on how to help — and how not to help.
“Don’t send shoes, send money. Don’t send baby formula, send money. Don’t send old coats, send money.” That’s the relief worker wish-list, as summarized by The New York Times. With so many good-hearted people eager to contribute, The Times combed through blogs, articles, and Twitter and Facebook messages written by relief experts to advice on how to avoid so-called “wasteful giving.”
Good Intentions Are Not Enough, a blog written by former Red Cross worker Saundra Schimmelpfennig, urges people not to “take up collections of medicine, clothing, baby formula, or food for shipment.” Donated goods can “clog up” ports and delay other items, says the blog, and “may also not be appropriate for the climate, religion, or culture.”
Many readers here at The Responsibility Project noted a desire to contribute time rather than money. But in a blog post titled “No One Needs Your Old Shoes: How Not To Help in Haiti,” international relief expert Alanna Shaikh re-stresses the primacy of monetary donations and addresses the subject of volunteers, writing, “Don't go to Haiti. It’s close to the US, it’s a disaster area, and we all want to help. However, it’s dangerous right now and they don’t need ‘extra hands.’” Unless, says Shaikh, you have medical and emergency response training. “If you are a nurse or physician, especially with experience in trauma, and you want to volunteer,” Shaikh suggests you email Partners in Health to offer your services, or apply to volunteer with International Medical Corps.