Paying Haitians cash for simple tasks like stacking rocks or sweeping the street? I learned about Mercycorp's unique humanitarian relief efforts from Janet Shikles, a health policy consultant, who worked at the General Accounting Office in Washington D.C. for 20 years.
At work in over 40 countries, including Haiti, the Sudan, North Korea, the Congo, and China, Mercycorp focuses its emergency relief efforts in four vital areas: water and sanitation, trauma and food support and job creation. Their "Comfort for Kids" is a trauma counseling methodology co-developed and deployed after 9/11.
The idea behind the job creation is to put people to work on useful, close-at-hand tasks as soon as possible. People get paid money for doing simple, useful tasks; and this, in turn aids their recovery from crises and trauma. Getting paid to work restores their sense of self worth and dignity. In turn, when they use this money on food and other immediate needs it helps drive the recovery of the local economy. I checked out the Mercycorp.org website and donated money.
Today, I also learned about three other trusted NGOs who have been at work in Haiti for the past 20 years. Globally active Avaaz.org has raised over $1 million in only a few days from its members and 100 percent of this money was forwarded to the following three trusted groups. Avaaz describes them this way:
1. Honor and Respect for Bel Air, a big community-based network in Haiti's capital Port-au-Prince, which is also supported by our friends at the respected Brazilian NGO Viva Rio.
2. Coordination Régionale des Organisations de Sud-Est (CROSE), which brings together some of the most active community groups in the South of Haiti where the earthquake struck hardest. These groups include: women's groups, schools networks and local cooperatives.
3. Zanmi Lasante, sister organization of Partners in Health (PIH) in Haiti. PIH and its partners have been among the first to respond with emergency medical services to the most vulnerable.
In this day of social networking, including Facebook, Twitter, and blogs, it seems that innovative ideas and trusted organizations are getting the widespread acknowledgment and support they need to maintain and grow their on-the-ground relief work. This trend is a good one.