Whether you're an individual, organization or church looking to help Haiti in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, please consider learning about and donating to some of the organizations and people on the ground in Haiti that have long standing, sustainable ministries and outreaches in the country. (See the list below.) Supporting large, well known, big name organizations may be easy to do but the evidence has shown that those organizations are not investing in the needs of the country as much as they are the salaries of the American workers discussing those needs. Example: the Red Cross spent 25% of Donations, over $100 million, on Internal Expenses. However, there are plenty of legitimate people and organizations that are making lasting impacts on the country and her people for a fraction of just one salary of some of these larger organizations.
I made my first trip to Haiti in 1997 when I was only 17 years old. The impact in had on my life altered the course of it. For several years I went to Haiti at the end of my summer working as a camp counselor. I went to “change their lives” but I was always the one whose life was changed after my week there. I graduated college and got married but my passion for Haiti was still there so I kept going but started leading my own teams down. I had always gone through another organization or the local church but decided I needed another way to be financially accountable so I grabbed “How to Start a Non-Profit for Dummies” and T.H.E. Mission, Inc. was established.
For years I went on annual mission trips and I really believed for a long time that we were making a real difference in Haiti. When the earthquake hit in 2010 I was devastated as I watched the chaos and rushed down via the Dominican Republic just 2 weeks later to check on our friends and take them some much needed supplies. I soon realized there was a huge desire in people who wanted to go help but the big name NGOs (non-governmental organizations, like our 501c3s) weren't interested in taking or dealing with teams so the co-founders of T.H.E. Mission Haiti and I started leading week long mission trips every 3-5 weeks throughout 2010 and 2011. By 2012 things has slowed down but we were still going every few months.
As Haiti began to rebuild and as we got more involved in Haiti as a whole and not just our week long work I joined a Facebook group of Americans working in Haiti, some missionaries with Christian organizations and others just doing Humanitarian work. What I've learned from them since 2012 has changed my entire view on short term missions, charity work, and our role in that as someone living stateside who truly wants to help. I still believe that short term missions has its place but there needs to be a shift in vision from what we want to do as the team to what those on the ground, those with the relationships already built with these people, need. That goes for donations and monetary support too.
We saw an amazing outpouring after the earthquake and millions were given in donations. Sadly so much money given to American based organizations were not spent on the Haitian people or their needs. Organizations like that spend, no, waste, so much money on salaries, lodging, and food because they aren't already established on the ground in Haiti. They are visitors who go down to do a job and in order to do a job in a country they know nothing about and have few to any connections with or passion for, must spend a lot of money unnecessarily to build those connections and weed through people and businesses to find the legitimate ones that aren't just taking the money and disappearing.
Despite the frustrating reality of what has been done in the past I have been so encouraged and learned so much from those who don't just visit Haiti to offer short term support but have sacrificed what we call the “American Dream” in order to serve and love Haiti and her people. There are hundreds of missionaries and relief workers living in Haiti every day who are working along side the Haitian people. They have helped Haitians become educated, skilled and self reliant. They are on the ground daily not just meeting the physical, emotional, educational and spiritual needs of the Haitians they work with but giving them the skills they need to do that for each other.
Those are the people and organizations that need your support during this time. Those are the people and organizations that already know what the needs are. They're there. They don't have to spend money to send teams in to assess the damage and then create other teams to come up with plans. They don't have to try to find interpreters while they try to navigate a country they don't know their way around. Many of those on the ground speak Creole or have a team of trusted interpreters, drivers, security personnel and more that are established and in place already.
Please, if you really want to make a difference do your research and donate to the real relief workers and organizations in Haiti. If you don't know where to start here are just a few that I know are amazing, impactful, well led organizations on the ground now that need support and help through this time.
Programs I have personally worked work or know those working with these programs:
Programs I have personally worked work or know:
T.H.E. Mission Haiti - Education scholarship programs, short term mission trips for emergency relief
Cabaret Haiti Mission - my adopted kids are from this orphanage
People for Haiti - Providing long term medical and material support in Haiti since 2010, mission team opportunities available
Apparent Project - provides jobs and skills in an effort to keep families together and deter child relinquishment
Haiti Foundation Against Poverty - provides education, medical, empowerment and feeding programs
Heartline Ministries - multiple programs for men, women and children as well as a maternity program
Programs I am familiar with in Haiti:
Chances for Children - supporting children through food programs, orphan care, education, medical care and more
Olive Tree Projects - Caring for the health and well-being of women and children in Haiti