Haiti relief efforts struggling to overcome obstacles

The situation in Haiti continues to be dire. While aid is streaming toward the impoverished nation, the necessary infrastructure to distribute the material goods is lacking. Haitians living abroad, particularly those in the U.S., often called members of the Haitian diaspora are trying to coordinate a work-around as quickly as possible.

Edwin Paraison, an Episcopal Priest and the Minister of Haitian living abroad is trying call the various groups together.

“Mr. Paraison tried to do what he could. Diaspora groups, he said with admiration, responded no less quickly than international relief agencies, though they have far fewer resources. Paraison estimated that 1,400 Haitian professionals — doctors, nurses, engineers — traveled to the country in the first six weeks, and those were only the ones the government knew about.

[…]After the earthquake, Haitian-Americans volunteered their services in overwhelming numbers. But many found it difficult to get to Haiti or to figure out how best to help. There are various reasons: Many international relief organizations, while in need of Creole speakers, do not deploy inexperienced volunteers to disaster zones; the many smaller aid groups founded by Haitians abroad lack a unifying organization; and the Haitian government, barely functioning, has offered little help in coordinating would-be volunteers.”

From here.

Some of the examples of Episcopalians here in the States helping out follow:

Groups returning from Haiti are reporting on the conditions there. One group of Alabaman Episcopalians say that the most important thing in Haiti right now is a sense of hope.

People in Tampa are working, together with the children of St. Paul’s Episcopal Day School, to collect school supplies for the students in Haiti. An official of the Haitian government stopped by to pick up what has been collected so far and to offer thanks.

And, the Rev. John Talbird, a retired Episcopal priest and active Rotarian is working with Chattanooga Rotarians to respond. A number of the Rotary clubs in that region have been active in Haiti particularly in providing clean water sources. The existing relationships are making it easier for the people in Chattanooga to coordinate their relief efforts now.

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