Haiti: Giving in Tragedy

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In the amount of time it takes to walk to your mailbox, an entire country was devastated. The 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12 left unimaginable damage in its wake.

Images and video from the impoverished country show bodies lining the streets and decimated cities. Hospitals, schools, prisons, and small family dwellings collapsed. The death toll could reach as high as 100,000, according to some estimates, and the International Red Cross says three million people will need emergency aid. For a country that was still reeling from a slew of hurricanes in 2008, an earthquake of this size must seem insurmountable.

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That’s where we can step in and provide some measure of relief. All through Christmas, we talked about “giving like no one else.” Maybe some of the articles and videos on daveramsey.com got your attention or made you want to do something special.

Well, here’s your chance. The Christmas season of giving may be over, but now we have an opportunity to give something greater than a stocking stuffer. Now, we have a real chance to give hope.

Last year, several of Dave’s team members traveled to Haiti to work in an orphanage. Having experienced the country and interacted with the people of Haiti first-hand, they have a personal perspective on what Haiti is going through right now.

“By the world’s standards, the people of Haiti are tragically poor and destitute, and yet they are some of the happiest people I have ever met,” said Chris Thomas, Director of National Sales and Sponsorships for The Dave Ramsey Show. “Being there at the orphanage last year, I remember seeing the kids we spent time with—most of them without mothers and fathers—who were just happy to be alive. Now, all that they know has literally come crashing down.”

“While there’s never a good place for a disaster like this, I can’t think of a worse place for such a thing to happen,” said Joe Leavitt, Syndication Strategist for The Dave Ramsey Show. “The poorest country in the Western Hemisphere just got poorer.”

“If this earthquake happened in the United States, it would be a disaster, but we would be able to rally finances, hospitals and doctors to help in the long run,” added Blake Thompson, Senior Producer of The Dave Ramsey Show. “Haiti doesn’t have this privilege, so they’re counting on us, as the richest country in the Western Hemisphere, to help.”

Within days of the September 11 attacks, many Americans could simply hop on a plane to New York City to lend a hand. In this situation, travel isn’t so easy. As we sit in the comfort of our homes and watch this tragedy unfold on our televisions, the question is—how exactly can we help?

“As much as I want to take my girls shopping for supplies, I think Haiti needs money the most right now,” Leavitt said. “Getting the supplies there will be so difficult. And, many times, large shipments will get hung up in customs and red tape.”

Hundreds of organizations are working in some way to help with relief efforts. If you would like to help, here are just a few organizations to consider:

  • The American Red Cross has released $10 million to Haiti relief. According to the Red Cross, individuals can make an unrestricted donation to the International Response Fund at www.redcross.org or by calling 800.REDCROSS. You can also send a $10 donation to the Red Cross by texting “Haiti” to 90999. All funds will support American Red Cross relief efforts in Haiti.

  • Samaritan’s Purse deployed its first emergency relief team just hours after the earthquakes. Samaritan’s Purse will use donation money to help with critically needed assistance, including water, temporary shelter, blankets, hygiene kits, medical aid and other essentials.

  • SafeWaterNexus is a program arm of GO InterNational. This Tennessee-based nonprofit organization is gathering basic medical supplies and hygiene products. They are accepting donations through their website, as well. Blake Thompson is planning a relief trip to Haiti with SafeWaterNexus next week. “Any funds donated to safewaternexus.org will be used immediately,” Blake said. “The need is urgent.”

The opportunities are unlimited. But be careful: Frauds and scam artists always crawl out of the woodwork after disasters like this, hoping to capitalize on a tragic situation. So make sure the organization you are dealing with is reputable.

If you can afford to give—even if you have to make some sacrifices in your budget this month (one less restaurant visit or cheaper groceries)—then please give. Every single dollar means something to Haiti and its desperate citizens.

Chris Thomas’ comments might best reflect the thoughts of many Americans right now: “I hate to admit it, but, for the first time in my life, I have wept for a tragedy that didn’t occur on American soil.”

Like Chris, so many of us feel the tragedy of Haiti in our hearts. Now, let’s take that passion, give like no one else, and see how quickly we can help get Haiti back on its feet.

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