My most recent visit to Haiti’s Sud Department in 2014 was also my first. Planned at the 11th-hour, the week-long adventure hopping from Jacmel to Aquin to Les Cayes, Port-Salut, Port-a-Piment, and everything in-between yielded memorable experiences and new friendships to last a lifetime.
Last year’s escape to Deep Water Cay and Grand Bahama Island was similarly rewarding, though in an entirely different way, the swanky digs, exclusive amenities and excursions at Deep Water a world apart from my experiences along Haiti’s remote southern coast.
The two trips couldn’t be more different, though these days I can’t think of one without the other, the destruction wrought by Hurricane Matthew in both places last week intertwining the disparate destinations in my mind.
Like a lot of people, I want to help.
Like a lot of people, I’m also wary of doing so.
Stories of misappropriated charitable donations are all-too-common when it comes to disaster aid in the Caribbean, particularly in Haiti. (Looking at you, American Red Cross.) How can you can be sure that your contributions, be they monetary or otherwise, are going directly and quickly to those most in need?
I asked a few friends for some answers. Some live in affected countries; others have very strong ties there. In either case, these are people that I know personally, or know through good friends. I trust them, so you can too.
Haiti Community Support – My old high school friend, Gwen Wilson, turned me on to this small, grassroots program started some years ago by her dad and his current wife, Matilde, who is from Haiti. They built a school and regularly supply food and medical supplies/care for children in the Macaya Mountains in southwestern Haiti, the area most affected by Hurricane Matthew. Funds are currently being collected to provide food on a short-term basis, restore crops for the long-term, rebuild, and provide medical care. Donate here.
Grand Bahamas Hurricane Relief Fund – Almost immediately following the passing of Hurricane Matthew in South Florida, UC reader and West Palm Beach resident, Joanne King, called me about her friend Alex Bussey. A pilot with a heart of gold, Alex has been flying relief supplies into Grand Bahama Island all week, distributing all sorts of much-needed supplies directly to local residents in West End, Freeport, Port Lucaya, McLean’s Town, Sweetings Cay and elsewhere. Check it out…
No doubt, there are countless other reputable and worthwhile charities raising funds and providing aid in Haiti, Grand Bahama, and other areas affected by Hurricane Matthew. If you know of any that we should feature here in the coming days and weeks, let us know in the comments section below, or contact us directly here.