© 2024 Blue Ridge Public Radio
Blue Ridge Mountains banner background
Your source for information and inspiration in Western North Carolina.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Haitians Are In Desperate Need Of Aid Following The Devastating Earthquake


Now that you've heard from some of the people most affected on the island, the question remains how to help. Skyler Badenoch is CEO of the humanitarian organization Hope for Haiti, and he's heading out there today to coordinate his team in the aid effort. Skyler, what are the most immediate needs on the ground right now?

SKYLER BADENOCH: Hi, A. Thanks for having me on this morning. So some of the most immediate needs on the ground, first and foremost, are medication, medical supplies and medical equipment, tarps and tents, and then basic human needs, food and water.

MARTÍNEZ: OK. So, you know, Haiti's government is unstable following last month's assassination of President Moise. How is that, Skyler, affecting your coordination with officials there?

BADENOCH: Well, to tell you the truth, we've learned a lot of lessons from the 2010 Haiti earthquake. And our position is always to help work to empower and support the Haitian government, specifically MSPP, which is the Haitian Ministry of Health. And while there are some reports that say, you know, there's a - they're struggling, we still believe there's a lot of value in helping the government, supporting the government and Haiti's Civil Protection Agencies. And so that's what we're going to do.

And, you know, just we know that this is a very difficult situation. Earthquakes are. And it's never going to be as fast or as quick as we want it to be. But the importance is to collaborate, to listen to each other, to learn from what we all did in the past in 2010. You know, Hope for Haiti was a responder in 2010 during the earthquake. I was there as well. And so we can use those lessons learned to do it better this time.

MARTÍNEZ: Are you worried, though, about things like maybe supplies or basic communication falling through the cracks?

BADENOCH: You know, it always does during an emergency. You have to - I think you have to be realistic. And so supplies will fall through the cracks. So will basic communications. But again, we have a lot of great organizations. We have - we do have contact with Haitian government officials, and we have to support them. That's the - that's one of our key roles as organizations working in Haiti.

MARTÍNEZ: Hope for Haiti is based in Florida. A lot of your staff, though, lives on the island. How are they holding up?

BADENOCH: Yeah, you know, that's right. So we have 60 full-time staff in Haiti. And, you know, to be honest, two nights ago was a nightmare. It was pouring down rain after an earthquake. And we were on the phone with our team members. We were, you know, talking to our friends. And to hear their voices and their kids in the background was just gutting.

MARTÍNEZ: What were they going through? I mean, it was just - it just sounds - just by you describing it right there sounds awful. But can you dive in and tell us what they were going through?

BADENOCH: Yeah. Well, a lot of our team members, their homes are damaged or they're afraid to go into their homes. A few of our team members' homes were destroyed completely. You know, some of them are under tarps or in areas that are just completely unsheltered. And so, again, our first and foremost - our minds went directly to our team there. They've been with our organization - many of our team members have been with our organization for more than a decade. Some of them even helped us respond to the 2010 earthquake. So, you know, the fact that they're going through this now is just another incredible challenge in a string of many challenges over the last, you know, decade.

MARTÍNEZ: You mentioned the things that they need right now, the immediate needs. Long-term, though, Skyler, what do the people need the most there? After most international organizations, say, leave Haiti, what do the people need then the most?

BADENOCH: Yeah, well, I think there's a couple things. No. 1, they need a stronger Haitian government. And that's really important. As far as an organization that's been working in poverty alleviation and supporting systems of health care and infrastructure and education and access to clean water and economic development, I think they need all those things all at the same time. And so as an organization, you know, we're going to be committed long-term, just as we have been for the last 30 years, to helping improve those systems, working with government partners, working with other nonprofit partners or NGOs in the area. And, you know, it's just so important to - for us to collaborate and be working in the same geographic location for many years, it's really provided us with an insight on some of the best ways to help alleviate poverty and improve the quality of life for Haitian people.

MARTÍNEZ: Skyler, last thing really quick - you mentioned 2010. How can your organization and others make sure that the financial aid will actually go to those who need it the most?

BADENOCH: Yeah, I think there's a couple of things. You know, the first thing I would say is don't do drop-offs. You know, drop-offs seem like a good idea, but if you could imagine how long it takes to get a bottle of water or a can of beans all the way to Haiti, all the way to the impact area, better thing is to research organizations that are doing work on the ground and provide them with cash. And if those organizations are doing cash transfers, that's a great way to help people. That's what Hope for Haiti is going to be doing. Part of our work is to provide cash transfers to immediately to 424 teachers in our network of, you know, thousands of people. That cash can be used to buy things locally in Haiti, stimulate the economy. That's way better than donating things.

MARTÍNEZ: Skyler Badenoch is CEO of the humanitarian organization Hope for Haiti. Skyler, thank you very much.

BADENOCH: Thanks so much, A.