Don’t donate goods. Donating stuff instead of money is a serious problem in emergency relief. Only the people on the ground know what’s actually necessary; those of us in the rest of the world can only guess. Some things, like summer clothes and expired medicines are going to be worthless in Haiti. Other stuff, like warm clothes and bottled water may be helpful to some people in some specific ways. Separating the useful from the useless takes manpower that can be doing more important work. It’s far better to give money so that organizations can buy the things they know they need.
Don’t go to Haiti. It’s close to the US, it’s a disaster area, and we all want to help. However, it’s dangerous right now and they don’t need “extra hands”. The people who are currently useful are people with training in medicine and emergency response. If all you can contribute is unskilled labor, stay home. There is no shortage of unskilled labor in Haiti, and Haitians will be a lot more committed than you are to the rebuilding process.
And, from the comments:
I’d add – Don’t adopt a Haitian Child. After disasters there is often a heartfelt desire and a rush to adopt “Orphans”.
The problem is they are often not orphans – and even when they are, where possible it’s better for then to be cared for by extended family or adopted within their communities.At times of disaster when families are trying to reunite and child protection systems are weaker is not the time to “fast-track” international adoptions and remove the important safeguards that should normally be in place to protect the best interest of the child.
Most of us have no first-hand experience with this, and sometimes it can be very counterintuitive how to help best. (As always, "common sense" is nothing of the sort.) Read the whole piece.