Loyal Polo Lifestyles readers know our deep connections to Haiti. Our publisher hails from the country and this publication began as an avenue to shine a bright and positive light on Haiti, its people, and yes, its national polo team. The last several weeks have been tough to witness.
The 7.2 magnitude quake that struck the southern peninsula of the country on August 14 was like a gut punch, or more accurately, like an illegal gut punch after having already been knocked down and flaying on the mat. The government was already in crisis following the assassination of the nation’s president, Jovenel Moise, on July 7. Then the quake hit.
At press time, more than 2,200 people have been killed, 12,000 injured, and another 300 plus are still missing. Haitian officials from its Office of Civil Protection have said 600,000 people are in need of emergency assistance and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimates 500,000 children have limited or no access to shelter, clean water and food. Then there are the recent reports of armed gangs attacking convoys deployed to hard-hit and hard-to-access areas. And fears loom of a similar cholera outbreak that killed more than 9,000 Haitians after the 2010 quake. It’s enough to bring a people to their knees, both literally and mentally.
While the recent earthquake was less destructive than its 2010 predecessor, the country is still recovering from that previous disaster. In fact, the narrative of the two quakes and the country’s political crisis uniquely converged at the ad-hoc National Palace (Moise’ private residence) above the hills of Port-au-Prince.
Moise did not and could not inhabit the official presidential residence in the government district; it was irreparably damaged in the 2010 quake and has yet to be rebuilt. The impacts of the 2010 quake reverberate to this day – and that includes in the recovery of the recent earthquake.
After the 2010 quake, aid poured into Haiti with such generosity and rapidity that questions surfaced about whether it all indeed went for the intended purposes. The American Red Cross made headlines when NPR and the organization ProPublica released a damning report five years after the quake, asking where the nearly $500 million raised by the charity for relief efforts went. The Red Cross made efforts to account for each project supported and dollar spent, but the damage was done, especially for donors whose heartfelt charity felt betrayed.
Many lessons were learned from that experience and since the August earthquake, the focus has not just been on raising dollars for relief efforts, but on doing so in a way that ensures contributions reach the ground where people’s lives have been impacted and communities upended.
In that spirit, here are a few informed and tested options for helping Haiti at this critical time.
Haiti Earthquake Recovery Fund at the Center for Disaster Philanthropy. The well respected and nimble US-based organization has created this fund to provide grants to families and communities in support of rebuilding and recovery efforts. www.disasterphilanthropy.org
The Haiti Community Foundation Initiative. A registered charity in both the U.S. and Haiti, the Haitian-led organization will engage in strategic grantmaking to local groups in affected areas. https://espwa-haiti.org/the-haiti-community-foundation-initiative-hcfi/
The Ayiti Community Trust. An outgrowth of The Miami Foundation and leaders of the Haitian diaspora in Miami, the Ayiti Community Trust is a US-based charity and they have established the Earthquake Relief Fund. With staff on the ground in the affected areas and in concert with in-country partners, contributions will be channeled to local Haitian-led organizations in the country. www.ayiticommunitytrust.org
Zanmi Lasante/Partners in Health. The largest healthcare provider in Haiti and a partner of the internationally renowned Partners in Health, the organization is raising funds for emergency relief. www.zanmilasante.org
Haiti Development Institute. Based in both Haiti and the US and a project of The Boston Foundation, HDI is working to direct funds to local Haitian organizations for both emergency response and rebuilding. HDI is a leader in building a more resilient and thriving Haiti for the future. Contributions can be made at www.hdihaiti.org/earthquake-response
FOKAL. Based in Haiti and founded in 1995, FOKAL is a well-respected national foundation and through it’s US based charity, Ayiti Demen, is accepting donations to support on-the-ground organizations responding to the quake. www.fokal.org or text SOUTHHaiti to 44321
Team Rubicon. I would be remiss in not including Team Rubicon on this list, not just because the foundation I run supports the organization financially, but because the organization’s roots were in response to the 2010 earthquake and it has since become a premier organization in disaster response. Eleven years later, Team Rubicon has volunteers on the ground in southern Haiti to assist in emergency response. www.teamrubiconusa.org/haiti-earthquake
Project St. Anne. Active in Camp-Perrin, one of the hardest-hit areas of the 2021 earthquake, this diaspora-led, U.S.-based charity quickly organized a dual in-person and virtual concert benefit to raise funds and awareness one week after the earthquake. www.psahaiti.org
PRODEV Foundation. Pivoting from its emphasis on youth and education equity, PRODEV has a national network of schools through which aid and resources are distributed during times of national crisis. www.prodevhaiti.org
Community Organized Relief Effort (CORE). Deeply involved in the humanitarian response following the 2010 earthquake, this organization headed by Sean Penn is collecting funds once again to support their rapid-response team that’s been on the ground since the early hours following the August 14 disaster. www.coreresponse.org
As with all philanthropy and all philanthropists, where to give is about what sparks your interests, passions and desires for a better world. To that end, this is a partial list that, if it comes up short, may instead inspire additional research that leads to an opportunity to support Haiti, its communities, and its people.