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Cholera Outbreak in Haiti: How You (And Your Kids) Can Help

Haiti's children need our help

Haiti's children need our help

Haiti is still recovering from the earthquake that ravaged the country earlier this year. Now, the tiny island country has to deal with a new threat: cholera.

The cholera outbreak in Haiti has killed over 150 people already, and the World Health Organization fears it may spread to the camps where hundreds of thousands of Haitians are still living after their homes were destroyed by the earthquake.

The deadly illness hasn’t been seen in the Carribean for 50 years, but now poses a serious threat to those living in the camps.

So many schoolkids were involved in the efforts to provide relief for Haiti right after the quake. I know my kids are still interested in what is happening there. They want to help. Here are 10 ways to help with this latest disaster.

Helping with a faraway tragedy like this almost always involves money. Raising it, collecting it, and sending it to the right organization. If your kids want to get involved, here as some things they can do:

  1. Get educated. Help your kids learn about Haiti, about the risks of cholera and about what can be done to prevent it. You’ll probably learn a few things yourself along the way.
  2. Make a plan. If your kids are motivated to do something to help kids in Haiti, draft a plan together: what are you going to do? Who will be responsible for which pieces? How long will it take? Planning together will help focus their energy, and keep things running smoothly through your project.
  3. Raise awareness. Making Haiti the focus of their next book report, talking to classmates, or sending a letter to family members can help your kids share their cause with others.
  4. Choose a charity. To make sure your efforts have the most impact, use a site like CharityNavigator to find a charity that’s working on the specific cause you want to help. In the case of Haiti’s cholera outbreak, consider giving your dollars to UNICEF or the World Food Program. The most important thing Haitian kids need now is access to clean water, and these organizations are on the ground working to give it to them.
  5. Raise funds. Your kids can raise money by holding a bake sale or running a lemonade stand. You can also consider offering a “matching grant” from your own pocket for each dollar the kids raise.
  6. Get your community involved. To have more impact, suggest that your kids combine their efforts with other kids: make it a class project, or a neighborhood one.
  7. Become an angel. In addition to giving through a charity, you may have an opportunity to help more directly. Find out if your church or school has a sister church or school in Haiti. Perhaps your family can help individuals in a very direct way. When there’s communication at that level, you can know what a particular child or family needs and respond.
  8. Keep it up. Whatever you and your kids decide to do, remember that the need doesn’t fade away when the headlines do. The families suffering through this cholera outbreak now have been living in crisis since January. They need ongoing support, love and (if it’s your thing) prayer. Don’t forget about Haiti the day after your bake sale. Find ways to keep your good work going.
  9. Take care of yourselves. Anyone involved in an international aid project can get burned out. Kids in particular can feel overwhelmed by how big the problem is and how small they feel. Be sure to keep things in perspective, and focus on the positive.
  10. Don’t force the issue. Getting kids involved in charity work and volunteerism is great, but don’t pressure them if they’re not interested. Simply model the good behavior you want to see by taking your own actions to help those in need. Your kids will grow into it when they’re ready.

Is the crisis in Haiti still on your kids’ radar? What has your family done to help? How have you talked about it together?

Photo: DVIDSHUB

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