Georgia-based nonprofits find themselves in a tragically familiar position this week, sending emergency relief to Haiti as the country reels from a string of new natural disasters.
Nearly 2,000 people have been confirmed dead after a 7.2-magnitude earthquake hit in the southwestern part of the country Aug. 14.
This week, Tropical Storm Grace drenched the country with more rain and wind, compounding the suffering of thousands who have lost homes, livelihoods and worst of all, loved ones. Some 6,900 people were designated as missing as of Thursday.
The quake comes less than a month after an existing political crisis was intensified by the assassination of former President Jovenel Moise, who was killed in his bedroom after armed foreign mercenaries entered his residential compound.
And that’s not all: the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage through an unvaccinated population, testing an already weak health infrastructure in a country devastated just 11 years ago by a cataclysmic earthquake that left an estimated 200,000 dead.
Many Georgia organizations on the front lines of that response are helping again.
MAP International, based in Brunswick, Ga., this week is sending 41 pallets of medicines, supplies, water filters and personal protective equipment to Haiti, working with three long-term local partners on distribution as exposure to rain and flooding heightens the threat of water-borne illness.
The organization also is sending Disaster Health Kits, which include first aid kits and hygiene items, to help survivors. Also set to arrive this week is an Interagency Emergency Health Kit that contains supplies like antibiotics, pain relievers, antiseptics, bandages and more, serving up to 10,000 people for 90 days.
“Our hearts break to see the destruction that this earthquake has brought on their country, and MAP is moving quickly to send aid. Our prayers are with the survivors as they face the incredible task of rebuilding once again,” said Jason Elliott, MAP’s director of disaster relief, in a statement.
Atlanta-based MedShare, which sends surplus medical supplies to hospital around the world, is readying its own relief shipment, according to its LinkedIn page. Over the last 2o years, MedShare has distributed 1.2 million pounds of medical supplies that have aided 1.7 million patients.
CARE, based in downtown Atlanta, has worked extensively across the country on poverty alleviation both before and after the 2010 quake. The nonprofit hosted a flash briefing Wednesday outlining its efforts to stave off hunger and disease in the country — as well as in Afghanistan. Some 1.2 million survivors of the Haiti quake need immediate help, the organization estimated in a donation campaign, including 540,000 children.
As of Aug. 15, CARE had already begun distributing tents and water, surveying the damage to assess the scope of the need.
“So far, our teams in and around Jeremie – which was badly hit by the quake – have found that at least 469 homes were destroyed and over 1,000 people are in need of tents or some form of temporary shelter,” said Lora Wuennenberg, interim country director, in a release.
Increased gang violence along the roads due to the deteriorating security situation in the country had already forced CARE to begin delivering goods via air or boat by June. The organization hopes to raise $20 million quickly to help the worst affected by the quake.
The Haitian consulate in Atlanta has yet to put out any appeals for assistance — the last post on its Facebook page recounts a July 22 remembrance ceremony for the late president, marked by the lighting of candles and condolences by Atlanta-based diplomats and reflections by community leaders.
The Haitian-American Nurses Association of Georgia posted a plea from its international parent organization for donations.
The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Atlanta sent condolences to the country and pledged assistance. Haiti is one of Taiwan’s last remaining diplomatic allies in the hemisphere.