Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Helping Haiti

437-96Haiti_Earthquake.sff.standalone.prod_affiliate.58[1] You’d have to be living under a rock not to know what happened to Haiti on the 12th of January. An earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale struck the capital of Haiti, Port-au-Prince. This resulted in tens of thousands of deaths and effectively destroyed the capital. The rescue efforts are well under way, but in a nation with already deplorable infrastructure, helping people even harder than it would have been.

Aid agencies and governments around the world are flocking to Haiti to provide much needed help. They are giving food, medical care, machinery to clear the rubble and are engaging in various other rescue operations. All this costs huge amounts of money and while organisations and governments around the world are making huge donations, a lot more will be needed before life even begins to return to normal in Haiti.

The fantastic thing is that now, more than in any other period in human history the ordinary individual, the ordinary Nigerian, is able to add a voice and a helping hand to victims of devastation across the world. While we wait to see what we can do to help the victims of Jos, there are already plenty of options available for us to help Haiti.

First the local (and decidedly low-tech) solutions. The Lagos State Government has launched an appeal fund to raise a million dollars to aid Haiti. The funds will be lodged in a special Skye Bank account for this purpose. I haven’t been able to get any information beyond the press release for this online, and it is unfortunate that the state government has no info on their website nor did Skye Bank see fit to have this highlighted on their website as at the time of this writing, but I imagine (or hope) that if you walked into a branch of Skye Bank, they should be able to provide you with information as to how you can donate.

The airline formerly known as Virgin Nigeria, now Nigerian Eagle Airlines,  is also raising funds for Haiti. They are providing envelopes on their flights for passengers to use to make donations. The funds from the state government’s and airline’s initiatives will be provided to aid agencies. So if you’re flying this period, why not give them a try?

On the more technological side of things, there are several international efforts and mechanisms to help us give towards helping Haiti. First a group of iPhone/iPod Touch application developers are donating all proceeds from apps sold on the 20th of January, 2010 to Haitian relief efforts. They have set up a site listing the software available under the program. The site has both iPhone/iPod apps as well as Apple Macintosh software. iPhone/iPod apps are generally very cheap with an average price in the range of of 1 to 2 dollars.  So if you have an iPhone or iPod Touch break out your PayPal account and check out the apps available. I’m sure you’ll find one that is useful and you will be donating to a most worthy cause.

For straightforward donations, there are agencies that you can make donations to. They are agencies that have people on the ground in Haiti and rapidly deploying resources. If you have MasterCard, Visa or PayPal, you can make donations to one of the following agencies.

Unfortunately, in the midst of this kind of situation, thieves will crawl out of the woodwork to take advantage of people’s generosity. In your desire to help, please do take the following simple precautions.

  1. Do not click on links from unsolicited email messages offering you a means to help or pictures or info about Haiti.
  2. Only donate online with well-known aid agencies such as the ones I listed above.
  3. when visiting an aid site, be absolutely sure of the web address. Either type it into a browser window yourself based on information from a reliable source, or use links on well-known and reliable websites such as the aforementioned CNN.com or Mashable.com.

Don’t forget to pray for the survivors.


Photo Courtesy of Star Telegram


Tope J said...

Good one Dejo,

I will definitely see what I can do, I also got an email from a colleague of mine saying that DHL is taking goods (mainly clothes and food cans) less then 50lbs to Haiti free of charge. I don’t know how true this is, but if so we are meant to drop the items at the UNICEF office or Red Cross office in Ikoyi. It’s worth finding out.


Oladejo Fabolude said...

Thanks Tope,
That's good to know.

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