We visited several tent camps to witness first hand the effects of disaster relief organizations and whether they are providing adequate resources for displaced families. While we did find some evidence of progress, including camps with permanent medical tents, toilets, and water tanks, there is still much to be desired.
The majority of the camps we visited did not have tents, but instead had shelters that the displaced families had made themselves, covered with various tarps provided by aid organizations. The real problem though, was the lack of access to clean drinking water and a steady supply of food. It became apparent that rather than working together, the majority of NGO’s in the area were fighting with each other, trying to take credit for what little improvements they were making in the camps.
There is no lead organization taking charge of the relief efforts in Haiti. The government has not taken charge either. So instead of assigning camps to organizations, or assigning specific services to each organization (food, water, medical, education) there is either the duplicity of services in camps, or no services at all in certain camps. The only presence I have seen of the Red Cross is the Haitian Red Cross which can be seen doing a variety of tasks around Port-Au-Prince. What I have NOT seen is the presence of the American Red Cross. If there is anybody out there who can tell me where to find them, and what disaster relief they are providing, I will be more than happy to visit them. Until then, however, I can say that the Red Cross is NOT doing a good job of disaster relief in Haiti, despite the millions of dollars that have been donated. Please pass this message along because next time there is a disaster, we must donate to relief organizations that actually make a difference, not those that fail to provide basic disaster relief services.