Saturday, January 16, 2010

Haiti Earthquake

We did not have to wait long for this decade’s first calamity… I was wondering in my previous piece what was in store for all of us and boom, the Haiti earthquake hit that poor country so hard!! I lived there for a year in 1995-96, which was probably the best period the country enjoyed in a very long time, i.e. shortly after former President Aristide came back from exile and when there was a high level of optimism about the country’s future. But the increasingly seemingly undemocratic way Aristide ruled the country, his reluctance to leave power, his eventual “exile”, and a continued political instability and economic hardship made the last 10 years tough on the country and left it even less prepared to deal with today’s disaster.

It is just terribly sad to see the pictures of places and neighborhoods I knew well that look all but totally destroyed – it is all the more chilling to have been in these areas and see now that what’s left of them is rubbles and chaos.

Fundraising has been quick to get organized. In particular, the option offered by the Red Cross to send a $10 donation by SMS ($10 is then added to your next phone bill) is very smart and has worked extremely well in the US. Yahoo has a direct link to Network for Good’s web site / blog that has sorted out and listed the NGOs active in Haiti and Google has set up a Crisis Response page featuring a number of organizations that are involved in the relief efforts as well making it possible to post messages (searching for missing folks or providing information) and to use Google Voice for free for 2 weeks for calls to Haiti.

I will be back later with more thoughts on the aftermath of the Earthquake.

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