I'm writing this as a plea: please pray or think or channel good thoughts, whatever you think works, for Haiti. I was talking with someone who went to Haiti on a mission trip a few years ago, and he said that their houses and buildings there are always a work in progress, they are always building additions onto the small structures they have. When the earthquake hit, it was like knocking over a house of cards because of the unstable nature of the structures. Everything there is devastated. Their capital city is flattened. Think about how America felt when Katrina ripped through the Gulf Coast, and then imagine an entire country that lives on $2 a day trying to recover from similar destruction. It's practically incomprehensible.
As Lutheran World Relief said today, "Due to the severity of the situation in Haiti, donations are the most important thing right now---Rescue then Rebuild." I'd ask you to consider donating money to an organization that will put 100% of your donation to good use in the relief effort. There are several well-known organizations that have already mobilized efforts in Haiti, but they could always use more money to send bottled water, water purification tablets, blankets, clothes, food and other various necessities. I've listed some organizations below that have great reputations and will definitely put the money to good use.
On that note, PLEASE be wary of requests for donations that seem at all like a scam. Go directly through an organization's website; some scams say that they will double your donation if you make it through their website, but in reality, they are pocketing your money, and it will not go to Haiti. Be aware of email scams, or requests for direct transfers of money. It is awful that some will use this tragedy to profit personally, but it does happen.
Thank you for your prayers and for your donations. I do not personally know anyone who was in Haiti at the time of the earthquake, but there was a group from Wartburg Seminary (another ELCA seminary) doing mission work there for J-Term. Yesterday, we were told that they were all safe, but today, we received notification that two members of the group got out of the building they were in when the earthquake hit, and they were able to find one another, but the third member of their party is missing. This student, Ben Larson, is a senior at Wartburg; ready to graduate and become an ordained pastor in the ELCA, as far as I know. The two people with him were Renee Larson, his wife, and Jonathan Larson, his cousin. Those of us at ELCA seminaries are mourning the loss of this student; the president of Wartburg, Duane Larson (no relation), said this about Ben:
Ben's baptismal light burned so brightly in our community and for all who came to know him. We grieve the loss of so clear a proclamation, with eyes twinkling, of Christ's love, compassion, and humor. sourceIt seems to be a reminder that natural disasters do not discriminate. And for as much as we mourn the loss of the relatively few foreign civilians and military who have been killed, we must remember how devastated the people of Haiti are at this time. Prayers are abounding for them, and we pray for increased resources to help those who survived.
- Lutheran World Relief- This is the organization through which I personally donated. It is Baltimore-based, and I know that they are excellent stewards of their donations. If you click on the link provided, it will take you directly to the Haiti page of their site, where you can click "Click Here to Contribute NOW." On the donation page, you can donate any amount, but make sure you select "Haiti Earthquake" in the dropdown menu. You will receive a confirmation email after donating, which can be used for tax purposes. Just as a side note, LWR has committed an initial $1,000,000.00 to relief in Haiti.
- The American Red Cross- Always reliable. If you click on the red "DONATE NOW" button on their home page, you can select the Haiti Earthquake as your chosen cause. You can also text the word "HAITI" to 90999 to automatically donate $10 (it will appear on your cell phone bill). THIS IS NOT A SCAM. The Red Cross has this information on their website, and they have received over $3 million in donations as of this morning with this method.
- Planting Peace- This organization has been endorsed by Rainn Wilson, better known as Dwight on The Office. He has done work in Haiti, in schools and orphanages, and he knows this to be a reliable source. As an incentive, he is offering a personally signed 8x10 headshot to anyone who donates $100 or more. Check out his twitter account (@rainnwilson) for more details.
- Artists for Peace and Justice- Another great charity that is supported by several celebrities: James Franco, Charlize Theron and Olivia Wilde, to name a few. Their "DONATE NOW" button is on the bottom right of the page.