Haiti needs your help

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Na­dine.wil­son@glean­erjm.com

Ma­jor Vilo Ex­an­tus AT LEAST one hu­man­i­tar­ian group is seek­ing to as­sure Ja­maicans that funds do­nated to Haiti will go di­rectly to as­sist­ing with the Hur­ri­cane Matthew re­cov­ery ef­forts. This comes in the face of al­le­ga­tions that monies col­lected by some re­lief agen­cies were not trick­ling down to the poor in the af­ter­math of the dev­as­tat­ing 2010 earth­quake.

Emer­gency disaster co­or­di­na­tor for the Sal­va­tion Army in the Caribbean, Ma­jor Vilo Ex­an­tus, said a lot of Ja­maicans have been mak­ing con­tri­bu­tions to the or­gan­i­sa­tion in re­sponse to the call to help Haiti fol­low­ing the re­cent de­struc­tion from the Cat­e­gory Four hur­ri­cane. This con­tri­bu­tion, he said, also in­cludes money which was lodged to the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s Sco­tia­bank ac­count.

He ac­knowl­edged that per­sons are some­times wary of giv­ing to a cause, un­sure if their do­na­tions will go to its in­tended pur­pose; how­ever, he gave as­sur­ance of the char­ity or­gan­i­sa­tion’s cred­i­bil­ity.

“I know that what­ever they en­trust to the Sal­va­tion Army, it will reach the peo­ple. Af­ter the earth­quake, we did a lot of work in Haiti that has not yet been told,” said Ma­jor Ex­an­tus, who has served as the com­man­der for the Sal­va­tion Army in Haiti in the past.

“Peo­ple want to know a trust­wor­thy or­gan­i­sa­tion that they can give to; and based on our re­port­ing sys­tem, it will be given.”

OTHER AGEN­CIES HELP­ING

He said that apart from the Sal­va­tion Army, other agen­cies and hu­man­i­tar­ian groups such as the Of­fice of Disaster Pre­pared­ness and Emer­gency Man­age­ment, Food For The Poor and the Ad­ven­tist De­vel­op­ment and Re­lief Agency have been help­ing with the re­cov­ery ef­forts in Haiti.

Both the Amer­i­can Red Cross and the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion have been scru­ti­nised for their per­ceived mis­man­age­ment of hu­man­i­tar­ian funds fol­low­ing the 2010 earth­quake, which was one of the worst nat­u­ral dis­as­ters to hit Haiti.

Ac­cord­ing to in­ves­ti­ga­tions by the Na­tional Pub­lic Ra­dio and ProPublica, the Amer­i­can Red Cross only built six houses in Haiti af­ter col­lect­ing US$500 mil­lion in re­lief money, fol­low­ing the dev­as­tat­ing earth­quake. Haitians have also ques­tioned the na­ture of the as­sis­tance given by the United Na­tions spe­cial en­voy to Haiti and former United States pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton’s Clin­ton Foun­da­tion, which col­lected more than US$30 mil­lion for Haiti re­lief projects. Those agen­cies have since re­sponded to the con­cerns raised.

Ma­jor Ex­an­tus, who was born in Haiti, said now with an­other ma­jor nat­u­ral disaster hit­ting the coun­try in the space of six years, the needs are great. He urged per­sons to give what­ever they can to the cause, util­is­ing agen­cies that have a proven, cred­i­ble track record of car­ry­ing out its man­date.

He said apart from the need for food and hy­giene kits, a lot of fo­cus will have to be placed on build­ing shel­ters for those who lost their houses. The three shel­ters op­er­ated

by the Sal­va­tion Army in Haiti have been hous­ing hun­dreds of res­i­dents fol­low­ing the pas­sage of Hur­ri­cane Matthew, which killed an es­ti­mated 1,000 Haitians and much more have lost their homes, crops and live­stock. Thou­sands are now with­out a roof over their heads.

“The next step is to look at help­ing those peo­ple to re­build their houses,” he said.

LAST­ING SO­LU­TIONS

Haiti’s con­sulate in Ja­maica, Cyn­thia De­sulme, agrees that im­prov­ing the in­fra­struc­ture in the coun­try should be one of the more last­ing so­lu­tions to lift­ing the liv­ing stan­dards for Haitians.

“I am very much ap­pre­cia­tive of the re­sponse that even the Ja­maican Govern­ment is giv­ing and pri­vate in­di­vid­u­als and com­pa­nies, but at the [same] time, it is not go­ing to fix the sit­u­a­tion. This is just a quick fix by pro­vid­ing food and so forth. But the main thing is that these peo­ple need proper hous­ing. Of course, the in­fra­struc­ture in Haiti is noth­ing com­pared to Ja­maica,” she told the Sun­day Gleaner.

She noted that ac­cess to drink­ing wa­ter and proper san­i­ta­tion is still an is­sue for many Haitians.

“There are still some tent set­tle­ments in Haiti af­ter the earthquakes, and af­ter six years, they are still there,” she said.

“I feel un­less the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity put a con­cen­trated ef­fort to put in all of these in­fra­struc­tures, they can­not re­ally up­lift the stan­dard of these poor peo­ple,” she said.

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