Haiti: Donate to self-organized communities through the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund (HERF)
Haiti: survival and reconstrucion
Most aid bypasses self-organized communities, usually led by women, in favour of big NGOs. That’s a major reason why, six months after the most devastating earthquake, water, food, shelter and medical supplies are still scandalously scarce. Only about 2% of the billions promised has been delivered.
DONATE DIRECTLY TO THE GRASSROOTS.
No administrative cut.
The work of Haiti Emergency Relief Fund (HERF) with self-organized communities:
From the moment the earthquake hit, HERF enabled teams of nurses and doctors to reach the Port-au-Prince area, and funded mobile health clinics and schools. They support a series of neighbourhood committees in Port-au-Prince, usually led by women, which have been providing shelter, food and water for homeless people and those who never received any aid from the US military or the UN. These are neighbours helping neighbours, Haitians helping Haitians, activists helping to sustain their areas and communities.
Walter Riley, Chair of HERF says: “Our aid goes directly into the hands of Haitians. We give aid, not charity; we respect the people of Haiti and honour their commitment to lead the rebuilding of their society in the wake of this disaster. We have worked in support of Haiti for the past six years, not just for the past few weeks. We will continue our work long after Haiti has dropped from the front pages. We hope that you will be there with us. We appreciate every penny, every dime, every dollar.”
The situation on the ground
With extraordinary resilience and courage, the people of Haiti struggle to rebuild their country despite military occupation and other interference by foreign governments, multinational corporations, NGOs and the local wealthy elite which have seized on the catastrophe as a ‘business opportunity’. There are 40,000 NGOs in Haiti, the highest number of NGOs per capita anywhere in the world. Yet Haiti remains the poorest country in the western hemisphere.
Since the rainy season began, people describe spending the nights “domi pandye” (sleeping while standing upright), under plastic sheeting because there is no room for everyone to be sheltered and lie down as water floods the tents. People are living in the mud 24 hours a day, in camps almost uniformly lacking in latrines or other sanitation.
An estimated 1.5 million people are still homeless, while the biggest relief agencies, including Red Cross and Catholic Relief Services, have spent only a tiny percentage of the billions pledged to Haiti. Enough aid has been raised by the big charities to give each displaced family $37,000. So why are so many still going hungry and living under flimsy shelters?
The Aristide Foundation has become a centre for medical relief as thousands have taken refuge there. At mass weekly grassroots forums, 900-1,500 people, the majority from camps and settlements around Port-au-Prince, and mainly women, discuss their country’s future. Neither the Haitian government nor the UN nor any NGO has brought together grassroots women and men to hear their views on the reconstruction of their country.
Key demands from the Aristide Foundation forums
Community kitchens in the camps; loans to women to re-start informal sector commerce; proposals to keep people close to cities if they want to stay, or re-location with people’s consent and participation; setting up mobile schools; and ending poverty which is driving women and girls to prostitution to survive. And the return of President Aristide and his family.
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