Dispatches from the End of the World
The President of Haiti, René Préval, is homeless. Despite our own meltdown, we are a nation in which our President can afford to spend $4000 a day on a Hawaiian retreat and unfaithful senators pay a mere $600 a month to live in a cushy room on C Street during their extramarital dalliances.
It's impossible to adequately appreciate what happened in Haiti last Tuesday evening because we can't imagine such a depth and all-pervasiveness of poverty that, for these people, the poorest in the Western hemisphere, is not merely an everyday fact of life but part of their very culture and history.
I can only reiterate facts that are filtering in from the Caribbean: Anybody and everybody native to Haiti, save for ordinary citizens using just their bare hands, is completely incapable of helping. In the photos that you see, there are no police, no firefighters, no paramedics, no UN peacekeeping forces, nothing. That is because the UN HQ in Port-au-Prince was completely flattened. The UN death toll stood at 17 as of last night, but 150 are missing and the head of the UN in Haiti guarantees the death toll will be much higher.
The police are paralyzed, as is any other first responder. The government had collapsed with its buildings. Churches have been destroyed or damaged. In order to find the victims under the rubble, rescue workers have to follow the flies. There are many, many hot spots in the world that also deserve our help. There's crushing poverty and oppression in Darfur, Myanmar. Yet right now, even they have to take a back seat to Haiti since their need is so immediate.
Yet people like Rush Limbaugh have the nerve to criticize our President for doing his duty to humanity by coordinating a rapid response. Limbaugh is saying that we shouldn't help these people because he and we gave at the office. Our income taxes will cover the response so fuck Haiti. Let's get back to attacking the president. We throw money at the problem, they'll grow dependent on our help. These are black people, after all, ergo we're talking about 3,000,000 potential welfare queens.
But I say we're better than this. The right wing had no problem accepting the help of half the nations on earth in our direst hour of need on September 11th. They had no problem rallying around a president who sat paralyzed on a chair for seven minutes after hearing about the 2nd jet then disappearing like a coward for a whole day. He could have broadcast reassurances to us on national television from Air Force One. But he didn't.
Anything and everything to the endlessly, bottomlessly despicable right wing is a partisan issue.
But every dollar you send, any supplies you donate to be airlifted to Haiti, is a way of telling hateful bigots like Rush Limbaugh and Pat Robertson to shut the fuck up. What's below is an expanded version of the list of aid agencies that I'd posted yesterday:
Doctors Without Borders needs help not just for the Haitians but themselves. Their own buildings have been devastated by the earthquake.
Haiti.911.com makes it wicked easy to donate $5. Just text "Yele" to 501501. This is done through Wyclef Jean's organization Yele Haiti so I know it's legit.
Partners in Health (PIH) is also looking for help, as is Mercy Corps. Their toll-free number is 1-888-256-1900.
You can also donate to DirectRelief online through this secure server.
Oxfam America also provides a secured server if you wish to donate to them.
International Medical Corps is also putting together a response effort to help the victims.
Here's the link to Save the Children's website.
This is the official Facebook page for the relief efforts.
Google has set up a crisis response page where you can donate.
UNICEF is also looking for help.
The Registered Nurses Response Network (or RNRN), is looking for both nurse volunteers to go to Haiti and for donations. RNRN's hotline # is (800) 578-8225.
Peter Rothberg of The Nation offers a wealth of other links to charitable organizations in this article. For up-to-date news, you can follow Mr. Rothberg's Twitter account here.
AmeriCares is another legitimate organization that has joined the international relief effort.
MSNBC has put up a massive page linking other charity organizations (all with phone numbers) in the United States that have committed themselves to helping Haiti.