Haiti 5 years after the earthquake

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A lot can happen in five years. A country can make great strides, but in the same time, its challenges can be forgotten by the outside world.

Five years ago, dozens of aftershocks were still shaking a stunned Haiti after a massive earthquake on January 12, 2010 took hundreds of thousands of lives, and affected millions. By this time, relief efforts were arriving in increasing numbers. The hospitals that weren’t damaged (like Hopital Albert Schweitzer Haiti) were overflowing as sick and injured patients were brought in by the truckload.

But by the time the cholera epidemic hit in October 2010, Haiti had long left the global spotlight already, despite the fact that little of the debris had been cleared and almost everyone who was displaced was living in tents. In fact, to this day, there is still rubble from the earthquake that hasn’t been cleared, and some people are still living in tents.

Among the many lessons gained from this experience, there are two that stand out to me:
– Relief efforts require effective oversight and coordination between different supporting organizations, or else they’ll end up with wasteful surplus, fatal delays, and unfulfilled tasks.
– Whenever possible, individuals and organizations should avoid letting short-term fixes get in the way of empowering the affected country’s citizens to be self-sufficient.

Without these things, no amount of money or aid will ever be enough to complete the job.

Photo credit: Christian Als.

30 days to fundraise for integrative healthcare in Haiti

Projects

My fundraising page is finally up, through an awesome new crowdfunding site called EverydayHero. Check it out at https://give.everydayhero.com/us/kenny!

So what am I fundraising for?

My 25th birthday is coming up, and with almost a quarter century of amazing experiences under my belt, I know I have a lot to be grateful for, but much much more to strive for. This became especially clear to me after a recent visit to Hôpital Albert Schweitzer Haiti (HAS Haiti, ww.hashaiti.org), an incredible hospital in central Haiti which I’ve had the honor of working with over the past 4 months. I came back wanting nothing more than to support HAS Haiti however I could, both by letting other people know about their work, and to raise as much money for them as possible. My birthday seemed like a perfect occasion to try to do both!

5 Years After the Quake

In addition to that, January 12, 2015 (exactly 2 weeks before my birthday) will mark the 5 year anniversary of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that devastated Haiti in 2010. As the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti was already long-plagued by debt, corruption, and shoddy infrastructure. I feel a need to say this: It’s important to recognize that after any disaster (natural or man-made), challenges remain long after they leave the news headlines. And while awareness is one thing, it’s critical that when we try to help, we ensure that our efforts meet the affected population’s real needs. Spending a bit of time performing our due diligence on an organization can make the difference between saving lives and actually being counter-productive.

Making Miracles

For me, going to Haiti was sobering, yet inspiring. In a place where roads, clean water and electricity remain scarce, I find it to be nothing short of miraculous that a single organization can provide accessible healthcare for 350,000 people over a 610 square mile area. Of course, this is only possible with the hard work of over 500 staff (99% Haitian), and a 58-year history of innovation, care, and excellence. I’m fundraising for the hospital’s Integrated Community Services (ICS) department, which focuses on preventive measures for healthcare, such as vaccines, malnutrition screenings, health education, clean water, and more, through a network of community health centers and mobile clinics around the whole region. I was drawn to ICS because I have a personal interest in holistic and preventive approaches to healthcare; also, there’s something that changes inside you when you meet the eyes of a malnourished infant and don’t know if she’ll still be alive the next day/week/month. When as little as $22 can cover vaccines and other preventative healthcare measures for a child for a year, every donation can give children like the ones I saw a much better chance at having a future.

How you can help

Anything you can give will be much appreciated, both by me and by the people you’d be ultimately helping. I’m setting a goal on here for $5000, but I’d really like to do more if possible. The best birthday present I could imagine is if I could reach 1000 people ($25 each is $25,000!!). I don’t know how outlandish that is, but I do know I’ll probably need some help if I’d like to get anywhere close to that. So even if you can’t donate, I’ll be eternally grateful if you share this page on Facebook/Twitter/etc., tell people who might care, or anything else you can think of! For those of you that do donate, don’t be shy about telling the world how awesome you are! Along with your tax receipt and thank you letters, you’ll also have a personal IOU for one big hug from me (optional, non-transferable).

Thanks, and much love!
Kenny

Hello world!

Thoughts

Well, here I am. Taking my first baby steps into the vast and wondrous “blogosphere.” What rewards this journey promises I won’t know until I actually start producing some things worth reading! In the meantime, please bear with me as I get the hang of this.

Here’s the idea: Having worked with and across a wide range of organizations, I’ve come to realize that one of the biggest things that well-meaning organizations are usually in dire need of (aside from adequate funding) is unsolicited support and/or publicity. There are thousands of small nonprofits and geniuses out there whose work remain under-recognized. For those that I encounter, I want to do whatever I can to bring them closer to their full potential, and this Psyched 4 Good blog will be one of the various tools that I’ll use to do that.

At least once a month, and more often if possible, I will research, interview, and write about a different organization, individual, movement or idea that I think is worth sharing with the world. My first series of posts for the next month will focus on my recent experiences in Haiti with the amazing Hôpital Albert Schweitzer Haiti. I was so inspired by the organization’s history and work that I’ll be dedicating my upcoming 25th birthday to fundraising for them.

Some backstory about Psyched 4 Good:
photoExactly a year ago, Psyched 4 Good materialized in its first form as a Facebook group. I was working in Hong Kong as the Director of International Relations at the Heroic Imagination Project, designing and teaching programs based on social psychology research, in the effort to train people there and around the world to be “everyday heroes.”

My work was about taking many of the powerful lessons that usually don’t leave academia, and applying them to practical situations for everyday people. It was fascinating and fulfilling work, and I saw tremendous potential for psychology to be a catalyst for other kinds of positive change, especially in bringing people together from different walks of life.

Thus, I started Psyched 4 Good as a “community forum” – a place where nonprofit leaders, social entrepreneurs, students, volunteers, and any other people with good in their hearts to come together, share ideas, and support each others’ endeavors. Our monthly meetings would each feature a different set of speakers and activities, and this would be supplemented by constant communication on our Facebook page.

It was an amazing experience, but I couldn’t continue in the same way after I left Hong Kong in August, 2014. However, now that I’ve found the next evolution, I couldn’t be more excited! I hope you’re psyched for what’s to come!