Is it really okay – safety-wise, ethically – to vacation in the Dominican Republic, which shares an island with Haiti? DR tourism folks in a small blurb in the NYTimes travel section today assure us that it is. I’ve wondered about this because my teen-age daughter has long had plans to visit the DR with her half-Dominican cousin this summer, staying with her cousin’s grandparents at their home in Santo Domingo.
First, the DR tourism folks remind us that their fancy resorts are many miles from the devastation and chaos in Haiti. And some resorts will donate some of their proceeds to Haitian relief – although not that much judging from one chain that will donate $5 from each booking. (Guests are also encouraged to bring an item to be distributed in Haiti.) Better than nothing I guess.
Here’s an easy way to donate at least a little money to help Haiti – buy the new Hope for Haiti album for $7.99 on itunes. Proceeds go to the recovery/relief efforts. For anyone who missed the Hope for Haiti telethon on Friday, this album will fill you in on the fantastic music performed – I’m listening to Alicia Keyes as I type, a performance I missed (I tuned in about a half hour into the show.) Only problem is if you’re easy prone to tears, as I am, you may need a hankie to get through this album. About half way through the telethon I gave up on using my sleeve and brought out a box of kleenex. Among my favorites from what I heard when watching: Mary J. Blige “Hard Times,” Madonna “Like a Prayer,” a duet by Justin Timberlake and Charlie Sexton (who was unfamiliar to me); a performance by the unlikely four-some Jay-Z, Bono, The Edge, and Rihanna. Oh heck, it’s all good.
As usual with most things high-tech, I am late on this – and I’m not sure I really understand it since, as my teen-age kids can tell you, text-messaging is not my forte. But texting has emerged during the Haiti crisis as an attractive – if not completely foolproof – way for people, especially young tech savvy people, to donate money quickly. (Although the downside is the donation may take longer to reach the charity than if a donation is made the now suddenly old-fashioned way via website….which is of course what I did.)
The NYTimes ran a good story yesterday on this which highlights the promise and possible problems with “mobile donations”/”text-message donations.” see: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/15/technology/15mobile.html?hp
Wondering what the best way is to donate money to help Haiti? The American Institute of Philanthropy which functions as an industry watchdog, grades nonprofit and charity groups performance based on two major criteria: the portion of the budget going to help via programs (at least 75 percent to earn an A) and 2. the efficiency of fundraising (i.e. those that spend less than $25 to raise $100 get an A). See: http://www.charitywatch.org/hottopics/Haiti.html
Among the philanthropies that have earned an A: American Jewish World Service (phew – that’s what I donated to); American Red Cross; AmeriCares; CARE; Catholic Relief Services; Doctors without Borders – USA (phew for Barbara!); Oxfam America; Save the Children.
Hard to think about traveling for fun with the tragedy unfolding in Haiti. News of the powerful earthquake there made me fear for my brother-in-law’s family in the neighboring Dominican Republic, on the eastern side of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, which we visited for the family wedding years ago. But from what I’ve read so far, the earthquake was felt in the DR capital of Santo Domingo (where my brother-in-law’s family lives) but no calamitous consequences, so far – unlike Haiti. Here’s some sites to donate money to relief efforts in Haiti:
American Jewish World Service: https://secure.ajws.org/site/Donation2?df_id=3460&3460.donation=form1&autologin=true&utm_source=fundraising&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=haiti
American Red Cross: https://american.redcross.org/site/Donation2?4306.donation=form1&idb=979483805&df_id=4306&JServSessionIdr004=yfywuys1p3.app234b
Yele Haiti Earthquake Fund, Yele.org and click “donate” to aid in the relief effort. (Wyclef Jean’s foundation)