Helping Haiti


Steve BellAt first it didn’t occur to me that I should publish what Signpost Music and I are doing to help Haiti. But then I recalled how often in the past I have been inspired by the action of others.  So below is and account of the modest help we are giving to the victims of Haiti’s earthquake. Please tell us your stories as well- post them in comments section below. It all helps to inspire and energize others.

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Educate

contentslider_haiti_1_220x0_90I was fortunate to have the last couple of days free so I was able to do some research into the history of Haiti and learn about her sorrowful legacy of poverty and suffering. I’ve written a blog about Haiti’s story. Check it out – it’ll surprise you.  And if you can, read some of the links to other essays.  For me, entering into the story generated a capacity for compassion that goes beyond mere pity and allows me to participate in the unfolding story that is not yet over.

Read blog: Debt, Dictatorship and Disaster – A Brief History of Haiti

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Money

Right now, emergency aid in the form of money is desperately needed.  I told my staff that Signpost Music would match the staff donations to Haiti effectively doubling their contribution which will then be matched by the Canadian government 1:1(unless Canadain donations have already reached the maximum that our government will match.)  Because we are giving the money through the Canadian Foodgrains Bank,  who will draw on its annual CIDA grant on a 4:1 matching basis as part of their response, the initial $1 donation ends up unleashing $12 of aid.  ( I hope I’ve done my math right?!) That’s a lot of bang for your buck.

food_grains_bank_logoThere are many great aid organizations to choose to donate to.  I appreciate Canadian Foodgrains Bank’s lean operations, deep understanding of the complexities of aid, and their long-term focus on food security.  If you are looking for a reliable agency with a tremendous reputation and track record, I highly recommend my friends at the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.  To donate through CFGB click HERE.

Perhaps you, in your work environment, or church groups, or can come up with a plan to motivate and multiply donations.  Let us know what you’ve done. It helps others to be creative.

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Volunteer

Steve WSOaMost of us only think of money when we consider what we have to give to disaster relief. But there could be other ways of helping that are just as vital. It’s easy for me, I’m a singer, I can offer a song or two. No-brianer right? Yesterday I flew to Calgary to participate in a benefit concert with several other musicians.  The concert was quickly organized by folks who organize events regularly – it’s what they already do – and it raised $115,ooo in a single collection.

What have you got, non-monetary, that’s your no- brainer? You might have time to advance fundraising campaigns through your social networks? Perhaps you can call your chosen charitable organization to see if volunteer help is needed where you live. Organize a public awareness  event – even if it is modest – it can be in your home, church, community club.  Organize a collection at work.  What else? Perhaps see if your community has a  Haitian social organization you can call to see if there is any way to plug in there – take a meal to a Haitian family that has lost someone in the earthquake.

What else? Fast from one meal a week and give the cash equivalent to Haiti relief. Don’t despise the small effort. At last night’s concert, a Haitian woman spoke and said that 50 cents buys a water purification unit that provides a family with clean water for two weeks.

If you think of something, please post it in comments below – it might trigger someone else’s imagination.

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Commit to Stay Engaged for the Long Haul.

Haiti’s problems weren’t born over-night and will not go away any time soon.  I talked to someone from Compassion Canada last night who said this will be a five-year rebuild. Stay engaged. Let’s remind each other six months from now to stay on top of the story and to give again.  And six months from then…

CompassionSponsoring a child in Haiti might be a good, disciplined way of staying involved for the long haul.  I have good friends at Compassion Canada and they do wonderful work.

I love quoting Fredrick Nietzsche’s ironically famous dictum that success comes to those committed to a “long obedience in the same direction.”  Thanks Fred.

To sponsor a child in Haiti click HERE

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Sign the ONE Campaign to erase Haiti’s Debt.

ONE logoHaiti currently services an almost 1 billion dollar debt to international lending agencies.  Much  of that debt was incurred by Duvalier’s despotic regime (1950- 86) that for thirty years siphoned off foreign aid money  (around $500 million) that was meant for Haitians.  According to the doctrine of odious debt, nations cannot be saddled with the debts of despotic regimes who did not serve their country.  Erasing Haiti’s debt would free up a tremendous amount of money for infrastructure: hospitals, roads, schools etc.  Enforcing the debt on impoverished Haitians is a form of trans-generational collective punishment that strikes me as profoundly immoral.

Right now, the 4 year old, recently orphaned Haitian child’s share of national debt is the equivalent of roughly half  an adult average annual salary.

To sign the petition to erase Haiti’s debt to the International Monetary Fund, Inter-American Development Bank and others, sign the on-line petition HERE.

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Reduce Greenhouse Gasses

energy starThe recent earthquake is not the only cause of Haiti’s suffering. In 2004, flooding from tropical storms left 5000 dead and many homeless. And then last year, the hurricane season of 2008 was the cruelest ever experienced in Haiti killing over 800 people, leaving millions homeless  and wiping out 70% of their crops.

Human caused global warming  is a hotly contested and polarizing issue I know but climate change itself is not. And those in tropical climates and near the oceans are the most vulnerable to the change.

Recently, I met a marine scientist who is currently monitoring the alarming rise of carbon in the earth’s oceans. He was telling me that even though it’s not getting much press, the calamity coming, if not addressed,  is far worse than the carbon being released into the atmosphere. I asked him if he believed global warming was human caused or if it was just one of many cyclical spikes that will come and go. He paused for a minute and then said,  with some exasperation, “It’s a moot point. Last time there was a spike in the earth’s temperature there weren’t 6 1/2 billion people on the planet whose activities could push the natural spike past a tipping point. Anything we do to add to the problem is not a good thing.”

After witnessing the burden of climate change on people in Ethiopia and Bangladesh as a result of dramatically increased frequency and intensity of drought and storms, Nanci and I returned home to sell one of our two cars, insulate our home and changed to low energy bulbs. We started to be more conscious of buying locally and began to use more public transport.  It’s all very small and meager, and my lifestyle can be fairly criticized yet, but I try to remember that every time I choose alternatives to carbon based energy, I am helping the vulnerable poor in other areas of the world – including Haiti.

For more practical energy-saving ideas visit Natural Resources Canada website.

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Pray

Rublev's Trinity

Rublev's Trinity

Don’t pray for them. Pray for us.

Lord… have mercy on us. We, your people, need to understand our common humanity as the reality of our design, a reflection of your Trinitarian being – a communion of love; of “mutual othering” – from which we get a vision of wholeness, and without which we quickly descend to  an alienated, vulnerable and autonomous self-hood incapable of shalom. Grant us eyes to see who we are. And let that follow from a vision of who You are.

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    7 Comments

  1. I know this is far after the fact but I just recently read this post. Thank you Steve for putting up ideas of how people can help. I don’t think most of us realize the extent of the problems there and how massive an undertaking helping Haiti really is. I recently heard a lot of opposition towards helping Haiti…most arguments related to how much help has been given in the past. After being there I want to encourage you and all readers how important it is to not forget Haiti as easily as we forget most world tragedies (Rwanda might ring a bell). Helping Haiti might be complex, difficult, endless, and at times feel hopeless but until our Lord Jesus loses compassion for the poor, needy, widow, homeless, hurting, orphan, etc… we can not give up. Haiti is you and me; just a different time and place. God has not shown justice to Haiti, but he has shown us mercy. There are so many great organizations working there that there is no reason people can not get involved in helping. I look forward to seeing many of your blog followers and hearing your music played on my next trip to Haiti.

  2. My church started up a mission outreach in the village of Neply (west of Port-au-Princ)e since 1995…. thru the years the Lord has done wonderous miracles there, allowing us to build schools and churches and trade schools and orphanages, so forth, but that has all been destroyed in the quake.

    One of our brothers and Pastor’s, born & raised in Haiti, worked alongside our team for the past few years, giving all he has to his people, but has now sadly lost his wife and two children in the quake and has been so busy helping everyone there and reporting to our head office in St.Catherines, that he hasn’t even had time to grieve over his own loss.

    But, the Lord has provided once again! I’ve just learned that the US Marines have brought ashore bulldozers and trucks to our village of Nepy, and have warships anchored offshore. They’re providing food & temporary shelter for the homeless.

    God is good and I know that He is still in control and all is not lost!!! This past sunday 100 Haitian people gave their hearts to Christ in our little village. You can read more of the good God is doing at http://www.lovehaiti.com, and more on the recent help from the U.N. at this link… http://software.clickbackmail.com/viewcontent.asp?myid=20621

  3. Thank You so much Steve, for bringing Awareness about the reality of HAITI..and their suffering…that is also our suffering…as we are All One Body of Christ!
    God Bless us All and give us the courage to help and make a difference in our brothers & sisters’s life!
    Blessings,
    Patty M.

  4. Thank you again Steve. And hope to be seeing you in Pittsburgh as I’ve already begun the conversation w/ your manager about us having you here for a concert in the future.
    Blessings,
    Ed Verbeke

    PS and on a personal note – I can’t tell you how much your music has encouraged, ministered to, and lifted me up over the years during my worst times of personal sadness and need.

  5. Hi, Steve – Just a reminder that a few years ago, on our first of many trips to Ayiti, you and Dave donated some music. The breathtaking mountains of Furcy, south of PAP, have been filled with your music since then. We brought battery operated cassette and dvd players (and many extra batteries) to schools and churches and homes without any electricity or running water. Many spirit filled moments were accompanied by your songs, with scripture and message that needed no translation. We have not heard from Furcy yet, but the beautiful southern city of Jacmel is greatly damaged. Of course, there is no help yet south and west of the capital. My Haitian friends are praising God’s goodness, even as they face heartwrenching devastation again. Bondye beni nou. God bless us.

  6. Hey Steve – great idea. My wife France, as you know, is a painter who currently specializes in One of a Kind collectors’ dolls. Today she’s putting up a special doll for sale with the proceeds ear-marked for Mission Aviation Fellowship. MAF has worked many years in Haiti and will be there for the long term after they’ve helped with communications and transportation needs in this disaster. Their smaller aircraft will be vital links to getting food and personnel out to the frontiers of the country. I continue in my role as a volunteer advocate for MAF, telling the churches and others about this important mission work.

    How does this go…? “.. let us not grow weary in encouraging one another in good works …” (or something like that). Thanks again.

  7. Steve, thank you for this feature.
    Since the earthquake, we have had 2 brief calls from our friends in Haiti. We now know that their homes, work places, school & church have all been reduced to rubble. In their community are many injured, a number of deaths and others not yet accounted for. Our heartache is multiplied by the fact that our friends live just west of the region that the Aid is supposed to eventually reach.
    At this point I would like to simply add my voice to your invitation to everyone to respond in the ways you have suggested.

    May the Father’s promises hold us,
    the Son’s gift awaken us and
    the Spirit’s power move us all.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Debt, Dictatorship and Disaster – A brief history of Haiti | Steve Bell Blog - [...] For some ideas on how to help Haiti, I’ve posted some of the things we, at Signpost, are doing …
  2. Spiritual Food and Clothing – The Ministry of Steve Bell  | Steve Bell | Singer, Songwriter, Storyteller - [...] is in need, he didn’t hesitate to put aside his own agenda. When the Haiti earthquake hit, his blog …
  3. More Concerts for Haiti | Steve Bell | Singer, Songwriter, Storyteller - [...] Read: Helping Haiti [...]
  4. Debt, Dictatorship and Disaster – A brief history of Haiti | Steve Bell | Singer, Songwriter, Storyteller - [...] For some ideas on how to help Haiti, I’ve posted some of the things we, at Signpost, are doing …

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