Vulnerable we are, like an infant.
We need each other's care or we will suffer.
~ "Vulnerable" from Love Poems from God by Daniel Ladinsky
Three days after nature wrecked destruction upon Haiti, the feelings of helplessness have begun to set in. The news is being turned off, the eyes averted from graphic images, the ears closed so that the pleas for help no longer can be heard.
What we must do is simply this: Not turn off to the news, keep looking at the pictures, hear the cries. Feel the pain most of us will never experience.
We must do this because not to takes away the hope of this tiny island nation. Where there is no hope, there is despair. Where there is despair, everything is forsaken.
What can we do, so far away from that place?
✝ Donate money to relief aid agencies that you trust. And, if you can, consider making that amount a monthly gift. Once the search for survivors and injured ends, Haiti's needs continue. Money is needed for food, medical supplies, technical assistance, and so much more to rebuild with hope.
✝ Donate by cellphone. This approach has been shown to get aid quickly to where it's needed. (To donate $10 to the Red Cross, text 'HAITI' to '90999'.)
✝ Urge that all or some portion of your church's Sunday collection be donated on Haiti's behalf. Our church uses a "yellow envelope" to direct donations to specific groups or causes. This Sunday's will be for Haiti.
✝ Write a blog post that includes your own selective list of relief aid agencies, then put a link to it at the bottom of every new post you publish. If you have a Website, create a new page and link to that.
✝ Create a Website (if you have the technical skills) where members of your community who are Haitian can post photos and solicit information about missing relatives, request help, and foster community in time of need. Link the site to an agency such as the International Red Cross, which has a Haiti section that allows victims of the earthquake to register themselves or relatives to list names of the missing. Add links to sites that enable connection with Haitians or give advice on what you can do to help.
✝ Write about Haiti on your blogs to keep Haiti uppermost in people's minds. Donors tend to give immediately when a disaster strikes and then forget about it. Haiti cannot survive if we forget about it.
✝ Tweet and text about blogposts and aid. Use your Social Media networks to keep the word going out.
✝ Look around your community. Do you have neighbors who are Haitian and have family still in Haiti? Knock on their door. Ask if you may help with making calls to try to get information about those family members. Offer to baby-sit their children to allow them time to help marshal the resources of local relief aid agencies. Take a home-cooked meal to them. Leave them with a hand-written note to tell them, "I'm here and available to help." Hold their hands and sit quietly with them.
✝ Create an event of your own to raise money for Haiti. Sponsor a concert. (I wrote last night about one in Ossining, New York, that was put together in hours.) Offer (if you are so blessed to have such resources) to match donations for an hour or any specific period of time. Hold an art auction, with some or all proceeds donated for Haiti. Team up with a movie house or other sponsor and have a film showing-fundraiser. Make announcements on your blog about Haiti fundraising wherever it is; you may have readers in a location where an event has been scheduled. There is no limit on ideas. Just think.
✝ Visit your local Home Depot or similar place of business. Advocate for donations of tools or other simple equipment, including portable lighting and work gloves, that can be sent to Haiti. In so many places in Haiti, the people have only their bare hands to use to dig out.
✝ Offer, if you have the training and time and have kept up your skills, to fill the job of someone who's gone to Haiti to provide aid. For example, if you work part-time in the medical field, perhaps you could donate the day or days you don't work to filling in for the person tasked to Haiti.
✝ Bring your community's children together on a project to aid the children of Haiti. Children are resilient and empathic, and they often have wonderful ideas for how to help. Schools in Haiti are gone now, books and supplies buried beneath concrete that eventually will be scooped up by a frontloader and carried away. Involve your children in raising money to replace lost books and supplies and writing letters and poems to or making art for the children in Haiti. Simple actions can have enormous returns.
✝ Pray. Prayer circles are powerful. When those who need prayers are aware that you hold them in your hearts, they have hope.
✝ If you can't come up with anything on your own, then copy my own text here and re-post it, with credit (please and thank you), on your blog. Alternatively, add a link from your site to my post, and don't forget to tweet it.
I could make additional suggestions but I think these suffice to show that we are not helpless in figuring out how we can help. We just have to stop a moment, and think. Then do.
Heart of Hope,
you draw me to hear the world's heartache.
You strengthen my spirit when I feel frail.
You encourage me when I am disheartened.
You enliven me when I sense helpless rigidity.
I go now to share what you daily give to me.
Thank you that I can be your channel of hope.
Once again, I open the door of my heart to you.
I open the door.
Other posts about Haiti on my blog:
★ Hope for Haiti: Seeger Concert This Sunday
★ Haiti Stories by Edwidge Danticat
★ Haiti, 4:53 p.m. (Poem) and Relief Aid
January 17, 2010, Addition
✝ Create an event of your own to raise money for Haiti. Providing another example of how to raise donations for Haiti, The Passenger, Warehouse Theater, Washington Film Institute, and Civilian Art Projects of Washington, D.C., are sponsoring a January 18 event comprising a happy hour followed by a screening of the documentary The Agronomist, directed by Jonathan Demme and tracing the life of Haitian reform leader and radio personality Jean Dominique. Twenty-five percent of happy hour sales and 100 percent of gratuities from The Passenger's bartenders and wait staff will go the International Committee of the Red Cross.
January 19, 2010, Addition
✝ Here are examples of arts-related events benefiting Haiti.
American Institute of Philanthropy's top-rated charities