On Tuesday, January 12th, 2010, a devastating earthquake hit the impoverished nation of Haiti. While the death toll climbs into the tens of thousands and the destruction to the capital of Port au Prince is massive, the effort to get relief supplies and help to Haiti is overwhelming as the world comes together as a community to reach out to those in need.
Unfortunately, with every good intention comes thousands of evil ones. A pattern has emerged since 9/11 and the 2004 tsunami where the online community bands together and uses the Internet to raise awareness and money to help victims of natural disasters. Facebook, Twitter and other Web 2.0 concepts have increased the availability and efficiency of relief efforts. However, scam artists and other scum bags are also aware of these methodologies and strike while the proverbial iron is hot snatching up domain names that sound like legitimate services to aid emergency and humanitarian services.
Facebook status updates took on a familiar tone of broadcasting a cell number you could text to in order to make a donation to the Red Cross and other organizations. Always wary of these types of communications I shied away from doing so because the immediate response to the disaster doesn’t leave a lot of time to research the available outlets in order to separate fact from fraud.
However, I did read an article on ABC News in which they echoed my concerns but assuaged discomfort in participating in a worthwhile cause without fear of being duped into hidden fees and hacking of my accounts.
The bottom line is that people want to help. Some folks are so good natured that they trust to a fault and that’s almost as bad as being in a disaster. They want to reach out and spread a little hope and in a economic lull the worldwide response to this effort is amazing. If only we could see everyone in this world as a neighbor or friend and not just when something bad happens. If only the world could organize as a driving force for peace and safety instead of answering the call just because you want some karma points.
So, whatever your method for helping is I applaud you for putting your humanity above nationality. Just remember to go with organizations you trust and show caution if you see an ad on Facebook or some other website. Call your church. Go to the Red Cross’ website if you are unsure of how to participate. Check with local Emergency services like ambulance and fire. They will probably know who to put you in touch with that is on the up and up. And if you are so inclined, pray for those most in need.
If you want to donate by cell phone Text "HAITI" to 90999. Be sure to correctly spell the word and send it to the right number.
From the Red Cross' website.
The public can also help by texting “Haiti” to 90999 to send a $10 donation to the Red Cross, through an effort backed by the U.S. State Department. Funds will go to support American Red Cross relief efforts in Haiti.