As politics, elections, and bailouts are just starting to heat up here in the US, and our media (and lives) will inevitably revolve around hardly anything else over the next few weeks, it’s extremely important to remember that there is a huge world beyond our borders with its own matters, issues and crises that may not effect us as directly but are just as important for us to keep in mind.
We in particular want to remind you of the devastation our neighbors in Haiti recently experienced with 4 back-to-back incredible storms this past August. Hurricanes Fay, Gustav, Hannah and Ike (and the subsequent flooding) have all done incredible damage to an already disadvantaged and poor country with very little infrastructure or support to get back on its feet. The storms left over 1,000 people dead, thousands more wounded, and almost 800,000 in dire need of food, water and shelter. Immediately after the storm, there were reports that nearly 200,000 people hadn’t eaten in 3 days. With nearly 9 million people living in Haiti on less than $2 a day under normal environmental conditions, these people are in serious need of outside help.
According to a September 26 United Nations meeting, these storms have set Haiti back several years and the UN has appealed to give $108 million in aid. Still, the storms have caused an estimated $200 million in damage, particularly to the farming sector (one of Haiti’s most important economic commodities), and has caused a loss of 3 to 4 percentage points of gross domestic product. That’s a fancy way of saying that these storms will have a very significant, long-term impact on Haiti’s economy and it’s future.
We have to admit that this pulls our heart strings here at Autonomie more than usual. We have been working very closely with 2 small worker-owned coops in rural Haiti doing everything we can to assist them obtain proper machinery, the correct training, quality materials and operational structures so that they may be capable of becoming an active and successful supplier of Fair Trade fashion. These workers already have a mountain to climb and a brick wall full of obstacles and now need our help more than ever.
Please take a minute and check out the following list of organizations that are appealing for help, aid and donations to get Haiti through this rough time. There are many more…so do a little research on the web if these groups don’t fit your bill.
- Campaign for Labor Rights: Haitian Workers Hurricane Relief, Washington DC
- Haiti KONPAY: Emergency Hurricane Relief Fund, Gloucester, MA
- MADRE: Emergency & Disaster Relief Fund, New York, NY
- Partners in Health, Boston, MA