Hurricanes are nothing new in the Caribbean. Haiti has been in the news again because of yet another natural disaster. On top of the crippling earthquake 6 years ago, the most recent Hurricane Matthew is said to be the worst since 1964.
Many people are moved to do something:
- Saying a prayer
- Asking friends of Haitian descent about the welfare of their loved ones on the island
- Donating to aid organizations
- Or, the old tried and true collections of relief supplies
After the Hurricanes are Gone
All those things have their place, particularly given the magnitude of the need. Certainly, you can’t let perfect be the enemy of good, and those efforts are heartwarming. Where they get stuck sometimes, is in a valley of unsustainability. How?
People take one action, then stop. Groups of people come together to collect donations, but only when something bad has happened. Then they struggle with logistics, security, and other challenges once the items arrive.Meanwhile, capable, educated, competent Haitians, who live in Haiti year-round, have little ongoing support to help build their country. Click To Tweet
Meanwhile, capable, educated, competent Haitians, who live in Haiti year-round, have little ongoing support to help build their country. While hurricanes grab temporary attention, sustained work is necessary.
This is why, more than 15 years ago, I joined a 40-year-old service organization named NJ-Haiti Partners. We, and our sister chapter, Haiti-NJ Partners, are equal entities that collaborate on long-term projects for the benefit of Haiti. We are all volunteers, without the expensive overhead that has doomed a lot of upstart organizations.
While other people scramble at times like these to figure out what to do, our partners in Haiti are well-positioned to roll up their sleeves. We have a functioning network of people. They help move the aid to where it needs to go, to the people who need it most, particularly those who live isolated areas. Our members give and get receipts for anything that is done. They take pictures; they submit reports.
Come See for Yourself
If you are in New Jersey, I invite you to stop by Brookdale Community College tonight to learn about Haiti’s Gifts to U.S. Culture and History. It is a free event, featuring Dr. Angus Gillespie. He is an author, a Professor of American Studies at Rutgers University, and Director of the New Jersey Folk Festival. He has also traveled to Haiti, and he knows some of our members there.
Before and after Dr. Gillespie’s talk, you will have an opportunity to have some refreshments, network, and meet some of our members. You will also meet representatives of our co-sponsoring student organizations:
- Global Citizenship at Brookdale
- Students for Global Citizenship
- Brookdale International Education Center
If you expect a flashy organization, that’s not who we are. Our mission is to help people to connect, serve, and change lives. Come check us out, and see if we are the right fit for your talents, your interests, and your donations.