Watching the video and seeing the photos of the devastation in
Haiti is tough for anyone. Explaining it to our kids is tougher.
Figuring out how one person can make a difference in the face of
such overhwleming need is the toughest of all.
According to Edward Brown, relief director for the Christian
humanitarian organization, World Vision, the best we can do is send
Here are what he believes are five myths about disaster
relief. I'm not sure how I feel about it. What do you think?
Myth 1. Collecting blankets, shoes and clothing is a
cost-effective way to help
The cost of shipping these items from around the country - let
alone the time it takes to sort, pack and ship them - is
prohibitive and entails much higher cost than the value of the
goods themselves. World Vision has relief supplies already stocked
in disaster-prone countries as well as in strategically located
warehouses around the world. World Vision had supplies
pre-positioned in Haiti in preparation for hurricane season, which
allowed the agency to respond immediately to last week's
These supplies are designed to meet international standards for
humanitarian relief and are packaged up and ready to deploy as soon
as a crisis strikes. Cash donations are the best, most
cost-effective way to help aid groups deliver these life-saving
supplies quickly, purchase supplies close to the disaster zone when
possible and replenish their stocks in preparation for future
Myth 2. If I send cash, my help won't get
Reputable agencies send 80 percent or more of cash donations to
the disaster site; the rest is invested in monitoring, reporting
and other activities that facilitate transparency and efficiency in
their operations, as well as in sharing information with those who
can help. Donors have a right and a responsibility to ask aid
groups how they will be using those donations, and what will be
done with donations raised in excess of the need. Transparent and
effective organizations will readily provide that information.
Myth 3. Volunteers are desperately needed in emergency
While hands-on service may feel like a better way to help in a
crisis, disaster response is a highly technical and sensitive
effort. Professionals with specialized skills and overseas
disaster experience should be deployed to disaster sites.
Volunteers without those skills can do more harm than good,
and siphon off critical logistics and translations services.
Qualified disaster professionals ensure that help is delivered
effectively, safely and efficiently.
Myth 4. Unaccompanied children should be adopted as
quickly as possible to get them out of dangerous
Hearing about the specific needs of children often sparks a
desire to adopt children who seem to have lost their
families. However, early in a crisis, children need to be
protected, but should remain in their home countries until
authorities can confirm the locations of their family members and
explore adoption possibilities within their own communities and
cultures. International adoption may be the best solution for
some children, but it is too early to know for sure in the first
weeks of a crisis.
Mtyh 5. People are helpless in the face of natural
Even in the poorest countries like Haiti , people often reveal a
great deal of inner strength and often show a resourcefulness that
can save lives. While support and aid are necessary, the
Haitian people are by no means helpless.
Cindy Richards is the mom of two who gets her muse from traveling the world, usually with kids in tow. She also writes for TravelingMom.com, where she also serves as editor.
See more of Cindy's stories here.
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