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Haiti – Six Ways Your Family Can Lend a Helping Hand

1028001_helping_hands_4The pictures of post-earthquake Haiti leave us feeling helpless, and the scope of the damage won’t be known for days — if not weeks.  But it’s already clear that there’s a desparate need for help in Haiti today.  Clean water, shelter, food, medical care — these are all urgent necesseties, especially for those struggling to care for young children.

With today’s technology, giving has never been easier.  On his blog, Chris Sacca outlines six ways to help, two of which involve no more work on your part than tapping out a short text.  Here are his suggestions:

1) Text “HAITI” to “90999″ to donate $10 to the Red Cross — Our friends at the US State Department, including Katie Stanton (@kateatstate), very quickly put together this number to channel relief contributions directly to first responders who will be on the ground there. I love that our government does things like this. (Update: I am told this only works in the US)

2) Text “Yele” to 501501 to donate $5 to Yele Haiti – My good friend Wyclef Jean (@wyclef) created this foundation to permanently improve the lives of the most impoverished in his home country of Haiti. Over the years, the stories I have heard from Wyclef remind me of how hard the living is there. I am humbled by Wyclef’s commitment to the region and the impact Yele Haiti has there every day. Check out more on Yele Haiti.

3) Donate to Partners in Health (click here) — PIH (@pih_org) is already on the ground in Haiti and mobilizing their relief efforts. If you have heard of Paul Farmer, this is the organization he co-founded. Working to provide health care and education to the poorest of Haiti, PIH is the real deal.

4) Donate to Architecture for Humanity (click here) — Cameron Sinclair (@casinclair) and his non-profit Architecture for Humanity (@archforhumanity) can be found at virtually every developing world disaster site on the planet. These guys are a collection of design and housing geniuses who work tirelessly to provide shelter for the most deserving.

5) Donate to charity:water (click here) — If you know me, you know how passionate I am about charity:water (@charitywater) and it’s work to bring clean water to the 1 billion people on the planet who don’t have it. Recently, the organization’s founder, my friend and inspiration Scott Harrison (@scottharrison), traveled to Haiti to commence operations in that country and already thousands of Haitians have clean water to drink. As if the situation wasn’t already bad enough, the need for clean water only intensifies in the aftermath of earthquakes. Every dollar of your support to these guys goes fully and immediately to work in the field. (Update: charity:water wrote a post encouraging you to also help their partners in Haiti.)

6) Learn more about Haiti — So often we send token amounts of charity to far-flung developing world destinations. Yet, rarely do we have a sense of what life is like there. Thus, one of the ways I believe you can also respond to a tragedy like this is to commit to learning about Haiti, it’s culture and wonder, as well as its daunting hardships. To that end, I recommend reading Paul Farmer’s book Mountains Beyond Mountains to get a taste of the hard work underway. Also, be sure to watch Ghosts of Cité Soleil. Produced by Wyclef, and starring him as well, this documentary terrifyingly depicts the heavily armed gang leaders in Haiti’s poorest neighborhoods. Meantime, try following the Twitter accounts of the folks mentioned above. Each of us can learn something from them.

Also be sure to check out the comments on Sacca’s post, which include links to other charitable organizations.

News reports like those coming out of Haiti can be scary for children, especially for children under 10. But older children may find comfort in their ability to help those who are hurting, and donating as a family is a good lesson in giving back. Magda from Ask Moxie put a similar “how to help” post up today, including this quote from Mr. Rogers:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me. “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day especially in times of “disaster”, I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers–so many caring people in this world.”

Our thoughts are with you, Haiti. More ways to donate.

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