be informed before you donate in a crisis

Renaissance Ronin's blog first attracted me because he's building affordable houses around the world out of shipping containers. He's been around the block for awhile and has seen the darker side of humanity take advantage of other's generosity in crises, such as the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. That aid boondoggle is well documented, see this Haitian news blog. Good organizations do exist, they probably don't spend as much money advertising themselves. When it comes to housing, Habitat for Humanity, has done good in Haiti. But a recent blog at Ronin's, How do you help?, also shares how the poor who need to be helped get taken advantage of despite the good intentions of donors and helpers. He's not saying where to invest, I have suggestions for you, but he wants us informed.

You have to start at the grass roots community level. If Haiti taught us anything, it was that dealing with multi-level “.coms and .orgs”, tied in closely with government just didn’t work. The focus quickly turned from humanitarian aid, to “profiting from disaster”. Many of you that followed along and watched us testify in front of Congress, witnessed the “horrors of humanitarian aid” firsthand and then… watched as we just “did it ourselves using our own resources”. Many of these groups asked for hefty donations or set up investment trusts to finance these boondoggles, making their managers and companies rich… and their “projects” targets poorer. When you consider making a donation start by determining how much of each dollar of your gift will actually make it to “the fields and families” that you intend it for.

I know he's speaking from experience when he mentions how quickly tools grow wings at aid sites. I'm also sympathetic to the tone deafness he writes about regarding my own countries aid to Native Americans. Ironically, another example of this showed up in my Feedly reader today about Kaw housing that the government tried to provide that none in the tribe wanted to live in, so the tribe used the structures as stables.

All in all, go read Ronin's post before you donate.

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