The nation of Haiti has been plagued with environmental disasters since the large earthquake that devastated the capital, Port au Prince, in 2010. While the world’s attention has moved on to other affected areas like the Bahamas, which suffered a great deal of damage in Hurricane Dorian in 2019, the need for assistance in Haiti remains urgent. Many local, national, and non-governmental aid organizations continue to make a difference in the devastated nation.
James Cammilleri, the founder of Elevating Christian Ministries, explains the various relief efforts which have taken effect in Haiti since the 2010 earthquake. His ministry has been responsible for helping Haitians with nutrition, education, business development, and training.
Impacts of the Earthquake
The Haiti earthquake was a uniquely devastating event. 230,000 people were killed, and 300,000 were injured. 1.5 million people were displaced due to infrastructure problems and collapsed buildings. The 7.0 earthquake caused $7.8 billion in damage. This figure represents 120 percent of the gross domestic product of Haiti. Reconstruction required $11.3 billion.
Due to the severe damage inflicted on infrastructure, Haiti’s support systems were seriously weakened. The government was paralyzed and could not effectively deal with providing services to its distressed population. One-third of the civil servants in Haiti perished. The National Palace, Parliament, the National Penitentiary, and nearly all of its ministries were destroyed. Infrastructure like roads and bridges suffered devastating effects.
Citizens and governments around the world were moved to help Haiti in the immediate aftermath of the disaster. The American Red Cross collected nearly $500 million. It was immensely helpful in providing food, shelter, and medical care for the displaced citizens in the months following the quake.
However, the Red Cross’s money was difficult to trace in the years following the earthquake. It built only six permanent homes in Haiti from 2010 to 2015. The Red Cross has not provided direct information about where its money went in the years after the earthquake. This has drawn a great deal of criticism and caused some people to rethink donating to the American Red Cross during future humanitarian disasters.
The United States government also provided direct aid to the people of Haiti. The USAID program has disbursed $4.4 billion in assistance to the nation since the earthquake of 2010.
Like the Red Cross, USAID is unable or unwilling to provide itemized information about where its money was used in Haiti, beyond the rough figures for funds designated for each type of assistance. $1.5 billion was given for humanitarian assistance, $3 billion was given for recovery and redevelopment, while the bulk of the balance was earmarked for longer-term reconstruction. There remains a sum of $700 million that has not been used for relief efforts in Haiti.
Other governments from around the world also donated aid to Haiti following the earthquake. The UK, Israel, the Dominican Republic, Canada, Brazil, Cuba, and Italy were the largest donors to Haiti’s cause. Cuba sent 930 medical personnel to the nation. Doctors without Borders also sent a large number of physicians and other medical staff to Haiti.
National non-governmental organizations like the World Health Organization and UNICEF were prominent in the relief effort. These organizations provided immediate aid and ongoing funding for reconstruction efforts.
On October 4, 2016, Hurricane Matthew struck the island of Hispaniola, affecting both Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The Category 4 storm caused a great deal of damage in the nation, destroying 200,000 homes and causing 1.4 million people to need humanitarian aid. This hurricane was especially damaging because it struck areas where the population was still recovering from the earthquake of 2010.
Many homes and businesses which had been rebuilt since the earthquake were destroyed in the hurricane, leaving their residents with nowhere to go. Unfortunately, the world’s response to Hurricane Matthew was not as strong as the response to the 2010 earthquake. The people of Haiti were left in need of food, housing, and medical care.
Religious and Charitable Organizations
A large number of religious and charitable organizations attempted to fill the gaps left by government and non-governmental global aid in Haiti. Many people in the United States and abroad were moved to help the people of Haiti, often contributing their own savings and money collected from their donors. A great many religious mission groups from around the world traveled to Haiti to assist the devastated country.
These groups, like James Cammilleri’s Elevating Christian Ministries, have been instrumental in meeting the daily needs of the Haitian people since the world’s attention has turned to other, more recent natural disasters. These organizations recognize that a great level of need exists in Haiti to this day.
Two of the areas in which religious and charitable organizations have been helpful is in the building of schools and orphanages. Many of these organizations have also built family homes and apartments. Charitable organizations have also been able to help with the ongoing medical needs of the Haitian population. Without these charitable organizations, Haiti would be in difficult straits.
While many organizations have helped Haiti, the need for assistance remains strong. Charitable organizations should consider devoting their time and energy to the distressed citizens of Haiti, who are struggling since the world has largely forgotten about their need. James Cammilleri encourages all charitable people to donate their time and money to causes in Haiti.