Almost two weeks have passed since a horrific earthquake struck at the heart of Haiti. The human loss since January 12 has been devastating. As we write, the death toll has reached approximately 200,000 – with more bodies still buried under mud and debris – and 2,000,000 are homeless, hungry and have nowhere to sleep. Families have been torn asunder; the already struggling economy and its shaky infrastructure have been gutted.
Natural disasters seem to strike at random. Everyday lives are upended within minutes. For the people of Haiti, life as they knew it was already difficult. The Canadian International Development Agency has long considered Haiti one of the countries with greatest need. This is a country where life expectancy at birth is only 61 years old, compared to 81 in Canada. Clean water is an urgent need right now in Haiti, so it's chilling to understand that 42 per cent of Haitians already lacked ready access to potable drinking water before the earthquake.
Sending money is important. If anything, we Canadians are known around the world for our compassion and generosity. Readers have been writing to us, asking how they can best help out, to whom should they send their donations, and will their money get to the right people.
Organizations such as the Humanitarian Coalition, an umbrella group of Canadian non-governmental organizations, has set up a system whereby donated money is funneled to four charities who are experienced in disaster response: CARE Canada, Oxfam Canada, Oxfam-Québec and Save the Children Canada. An added bonus: The Canadian Government will match any funds dollar for dollar. Visit their web site or telephone: 1-800-464-9154.
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada has developed a comprehensive list of a full range of organizations which focus on various aspects of relief, from medicine (Doctors Without Borders) to children’s needs (UNICEF Canada). You can view the complete list here.
If you have questions about the legitimacy of any not-for-profit group soliciting funds for Haiti, visit the Better Business Bureau who can provide you with details on Haiti charity appeals.
At Canadian Living, we've been doing many things. We have long been partnered with Free the Children, and continue to support them at this time. You can learn the details on FTC's Haiti relief efforts here.
We’re also holding fund-raisers in our office: book sales, beauty sales, craft sales. Raising funds for good causes is something that's familiar to us. If you'd like to send funds to help in the Haiti relief effort and are looking for ideas on fund-raising in your workplace/office, community/neighbourhood or in your home, read 10 easy ways to hold a fundraiser in your community, office or home.
Haiti is a country that's had more than its fair share of suffering and tragedy. Let's reach out to them. No effort is too small.
Susan Antonacci, Editor-in-Chief, Canadian Living Magazine
Doug O’Neill, Executive Editor, Canadian Living Magazine