My family and I received the following message from The Embassy of the Republic of Haiti on October 6, 2016 at 9:01 pm. The Ambassador gives important advice: work with credible organizations and institutions on the ground in Haiti. Bypassing and ignoring local Haitian organizations and institutions (inclusive of government) is not helpful in the long term and has in fact been destructive. If you need help figuring out how to intelligently help Haitians, contact the Embassy's hotline at (202) 320-4436. Visit the Embassy's website at www.haiti.org and follow @EmbassyOfHaiti on Twitter.
Separate from Ambassador Altidor's statement, Woy Magazine recently published an important article titled "When Non-Haitians Ask How They Can Help Haiti." Everyone should read it. And I really hope it sinks in if you or anyone you know suffers from a delusion about being a "savior." Only Haitians will save Haiti. You can help, but skip the too common vain, ignorant, and ineffective nonsense that might make for a great resume or colorful Instagram profile. Read: http://woymagazine.com/2016/09/30/when-non-haitians-ask-how-they-can-help-haiti/
Dear Esteemed Friends of the Embassy of Haiti,
I hope this message finds you well during this difficult time for the Caribbean region.
As you are aware, a category 4 storm landed in Haiti on Tuesday, October 4, 2016. Hurricane Matthew has left substantial damage in many regions of the country, destroying homes, businesses and lives. While this storm has moved from the shores of the island, we remain in a process of assessment and recovery. I would like to share the latest official updates with you as there are many different sources and platforms providing diverse information.
Haiti’s physical infrastructure suffered extensively. Communication towers, roads, homes and crops were severely damaged, most particularly in the southern part of the country. As of noon today, Haitian officials have confirmed one hundred eight (108) deaths and approximately twenty-four thousand (24,000) displaced individuals lodged in shelters. These numbers do not account for the Grand’Anse region as all communication is currently down and roads are still inaccessible in many communities throughout southern Haiti. The government is working diligently to ensure that access to roads and communication lines are restored as quickly as possible.
In such a time as this, I can imagine there is an urgency to mobilize and initiate efforts and offer ourselves at the service of our brothers and sisters. It is more beneficial however that we engage in a coordinated and strategic relief effort to avoid mistakes from the past. As the country continues to assess the extent of the damage, the state of Haiti strongly encourages all who wish to help to work with the local organizations and institutions on the ground in order to gain their input on the actual needs of the affected communities.
In the meantime, the most efficient way to contribute is to offer financial support. We encourage you to identify and engage local stakeholders. I and the staff at the Embassy stand ready to guide you and identify credible organizations on the ground for collaboration. You should know that local municipalities can also be good partners. It is imperative that we take caution when offering assistance not to contribute to the destruction of local institutions by bypassing or undermining them.
To best assist you, the Embassy of Haiti has activated a hotline. Please feel free to contact us and also share the number with your networks, (202) 320-4436.
I encourage you to stay connected with us on social media for periodic updates.
I am sending my best wishes to all your loved ones in Haiti.
Ambassador Paul Altidor