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What You Can Do for Haiti

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Reports from Haiti indicate massive trauma and casualties from the January 12 earthquake. Outside help is needed for people who were already the poorest in the western hemisphere. But the wrong kind of help can feed corruption, dependence on outsiders, and even exploitation.

How can we support the right kind of aid, the kind that builds local self-resilience, strengthens the local economy, and fosters local leadership?

Here are some of the groups that have a track record of offering the right kind of support:

Partners in Health. Paul Farmer has been offering medical care to the poor in Haiti since 1983. The PIH team has sent an urgent request for help. 

Oxfam's Latin America emergency response team is headquartered in Haiti, so they are well positioned to respond quickly. And they have a strong track record of supporting local rebuilding rather than funneling money to outside contractors.

Grassroots International has set up an emergency fund to assist their Haitian partners--local organizations that have been working for years for a sustainable future for Haiti.

Action Aid, which is working around the world to end poverty, works in Haiti and is looking for help for both short term response and long-term rebuilding.

Doctors Without Borders, which already had medical teams in Haiti, has begun treating earthquake victims. According to a staff member, most medical facilities in Port-au-Prince are not functioning. 

Any of these groups will use your donations effectively. Please spread the word. Comments are welcome on these and other opportunities to help.

This piece was written by Sarah van Gelder for YES! Magazine, a national media organization that combines powerful ideas and practical action towards a more just and sustainable world.