Updated: Jan 13, 2020
In the four weeks following the earthquake in Haiti, I worked hand-in-hand with lots of people, doing lots of different things.
At the end of every day, I would return to the home of John & Merline Engle for a chance to rest, unwind, and reflect.
On several of those days, I worked directly with their organization, Haiti Partners, to serve the communities they had already been committed to before the earthquake. That experience was eye-opening.
I have never seen a more competent, committed, and ethical group of humans in my life.
Their name doesn't just say "partners," they live it in every conceivable way. That is why, after the quake, when people would ask me how they could support Haiti, I expressly told them NOT to give to my non-profit, but instead to give to HP. And make no mistake, people were chomping at the bit to send us money.
Turning folks toward a different non-profit was certainly "bad for business," but I did so because I knew that our fledgling organization couldn't come close to doing what needed to be done, while Haiti Partners was already actively doing it. While I was absolutely in Haiti to make a difference in the lives of Haitians, I couldn't ignore the obvious truth: Haiti Partners was the right organization for the hour.
Time would eventually show that there was a tremendous amount of waste coming out of the non-profit sector and, in my opinion, a lot of outright stealing that took place on the watch of some of the largest NGOs and government relief agencies. A scathing REPORT from The Center for Economic and Policy Research outlines just how seditious those actors were. At the time of this post, I see no reason to believe that anything has changed.
The corruption (not sloppy spending or unintended waste, but what appears to be intentional theft) is vast.
Enough so that many people became fatigued from giving. I know that I did. After all, who wants to give when you cannot be sure it will be used for its intended purpose?
I've said lots about this and will likely have more to say some day, but not today.
10-years later, Haiti Partners not only retains my initial trust, they have reached above and beyond what larger, more well-funded organizations could ever dream of.
If the earthquake tugged at your heart all those years ago and you still really want to help but don't feel safe knowing where or how to connect, I give my highest recommendation to Haiti Partners.
If you partner with them, you are partnered directly with good, hardworking Haitian families, communities, and individuals.
As the 10-year anniversary of the earthquake approached, I was blessed to be commissioned by John and HP to co-create a piece with Merline that both honored what was lost, while shining a light on the wonderful things this small, unassuming non-profit has done with very limited resources. Here is that video:
In 2009, I moved to Haiti with my family because we saw the need and assumed we could put a dent in it. While I am certain that our work mattered to the people we befriended, one thing that I learned very fast was just how powerful the right organization can be and just how worthless the wrong ones are. Haiti Partners is the right kind of organization and the proof is in the pudding. I invite you to view their EARTHQUAKE REPORT and see for yourself.
Today, my family and I have moved into a different stage of our lives. In part, I am working on a documentary film that explores the PTSD that I acquired during those four weeks. You can subscribe to my newsletter at the bottom of the page for updates on that. Beyond that, we continue to press ourselves to occupy the place in the world where we are first, best for our own family, and then--and only then--helpful toward others.
For my money, when it comes to helping Haiti in a meaningful and lasting way, Haiti Partners gets an A+ (without a moment's hesitation). To them I say, "Well done, good and faithful servants!"