Haiti, the poorest country in the western hemisphere, has been hit by a massive earthquake, affecting millions of people. Americans have already generously donated millions of dollars to help, but more help is still greatly needed. At this point, it is important to remember to give money to trusted organizations with a history of transparency, low overhead costs and efficiency to truly aid Haitians who need help the most.
Oxfam America was rated a top charity by the American Institute of Philanthropy and focuses currently on giving clean water to those affected. The American Red Cross is another top-rated charity. Besides donating money to cover immediate needs, we must also think of the future. It is crucially important for Americans to get behind the effort to cancel Haiti’s debt. Corrupt and undemocratic leaders have amassed $891 million in debt. Ordinary Haitians did not choose to build such debt, yet they see little if any of the benefits of the loans and are affected most by the burden of debt. The International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s response to the earthquake was to offer a $100 million loan to this economically devastated country that has little chance of repaying the loan. Aid for development should come in the form of grants, not loans.
The Catholic Church spearheaded the Jubilee Year Debt Forgiveness effort that helped developing countries crippled by debt start anew and should take the lead again in helping Haiti recover. Additionally, the government of Haiti needs reform to stop widespread corruption and to end the cycle of poverty (Haiti was recently ranked as one of the most corrupt countries by Transparency International). I encourage my fellow Domers to keep donating money for relief efforts and to cancel Haiti’s debt.