But what kind of help?
Permit me to explain the strange title of this post.
Whenever we send a team to Haiti, we are inundated with requests to carry gifts and other items down with us to give to the children and their families. This is usually the result of great generosity on the part of the giver. It’s hard to believe that bringing down personal care items, clothing, and food could have anything but a positive effect.
But there is a dark side to such giving. For every item we bring, that’s one thing that will not need to be purchased in Haiti from a Haitian businessperson with Haitian employees. In the case of a single pair of shoes or a single package of diapers, it might not seems like much of a deprivation. But there are thousands of people taking thousands of items. That makes quite a dent in an already floundering economy.
Taken to its extreme, this kind of activity can completely destroy an entire industry. That has been the case with rice. Haiti used to have
No Haitian rice available.
a thriving rice industry. Subsidized rice from other countries, including the US, has made it cheaper to buy foreign rice than native rice. As a result, there is no rice industry in Haiti anymore.
Servants for Haiti is more aware of this issue than ever. We are now in the business of helping Haitians start businesses. If those businesses are DOA because of free imported goods, our efforts are for naught.
What to do? Send money. If you want to give diapers to an orphanage or food for a family, give a team member the money to buy the goods in Haiti. We hope to make that process easier over time. For now, however, simply be aware that every shirt you send down is a shirt that won’t be bought from a local vendor.
This is a real problem with real victims.
Local markets can't compete with free stuff.
Servants for Haiti recently issued the following letter to its supporters:
Most of you have received information about the upcoming change in the focus of Servants for Haiti. I am writing to update you on where things stand.
As of July 1, 2011, Servants for Haiti will no longer manage the sponsorship programs for Kingdom Kids Orphanage or College Jean Rigaud Antoine (CJRA). The new organization that will take care of those sponsorships is Haiti International Alliance (HIA), founded by Pastor Rigaud Antoine, who also founded and manages the school and orphanage. Two former board members of SFH serve on the board of HIA. We have been cooperating to make sure that this transition goes smoothly and that care for the children will continue uninterrupted. The children of Haiti are the key to Haiti’s future and remain dear to our hearts. Their continued sponsorship is important to their success.
If you currently sponsor a child in one of the programs being transferred to HIA, we encourage you to continue to do so. After July 1, 2011, please send your sponsorship check to:
Haiti International Alliance
22 Goonan Road
Hooksett, NH 03106
If you are ahead in your sponsorship donations, those contributions will be sent to HIA on or about July 1, 2011.
SFH will retain our continuing education program. We are in the process of selecting a graduating student from CJRA to receive a scholarship to attend university in Haiti. We already sponsor a medical student, currently doing very well in his fifth year. We are also sponsoring a young man attending trade school in hopes of becoming a mechanic .
In addition, we are excited to announce two new programs. First, SFH is starting a program that will train people how to begin and run a small business. After training, each student will have an opportunity to receive a micro-loan to start a new business.
Second, we will focus on providing shelter. Although it has been almost a year and a half since the earthquake, hundreds of thousands of people still live in tents. Again, we plan to partner with other organizations already working in Haiti. We are looking into both temporary and permanent shelter solutions. The crime in the tent cities is staggering. SFH wants to help keep families safe by simply allowing them to lock their doors.
If you are interested in hearing more about our new programs and discovering ways that you can help, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Thank you for your continued support for the people of Haiti.
This is an exciting time for all of us at both organizations. HIA will make sure there is no lapse in the care for the kids at Kingdom Kids orphanage and SFH can move forward with its new calling. To learn more about HIA or to contact them, visit their web site here.
If you have any questions about this transition, please don’t hesitate to contact either team. Now and in the future, both organizations share a single goal: The long term physical, spiritual, and emotional health of the Haitian people.