11 March 2010

Haiti: Expenses and Explanations

It has been just over a week since our return form Haiti. My mind has had some time to process what we experienced during our week, but I am still not able to process everything that I would like to.However, I am able to more clearly communicate some ideas of what our future will look like in Haiti.

I am currently planning a second trip to Haiti. I hope to leave on March 22nd. The plan is to stay in Haiti for four weeks. During this four week time I will be assisting in the requisition and distribution of temporary housing, i.e. tarps and tents. I will also assist in the distribution of food and supplies to remote and virtually unassisted villages in Haiti. I am also working on acquiring contacts for shoes and clothing which I will distribute to a number of the fourteen orphanages we visited on our last trip. All I need to do is find the stuff I need so I can get it out to those who need it.

The key to working in Haiti is to find out who has what and working my way into the system so I can start gaining access to  the large amount of supplies that are already in country. I know it sounds easy, but in reality, it can prove to be quite difficult. Many governments and organizations have supplies in country, but for fear of finding items on the black market, they keep tight reigns on what they have. It's there, I just need to get my hands on it.

This next trip is going to be much more expensive than the last. $6,000.00 expensive.  To put it into perspective, it cost three of us around $3,000.00 to go on the first trip, minus personal expenses for travel food, immunizations, etc. So here is a basic breakdown of the expenses needed to make this trip happen.

- Personal expenses while gone:     $500.00/m
- Safe place to stay in Haiti:            $400.00/m
- Interpreter                                   $560.00/m
- Transportation                             $2,240.00/m
- Airfare                                        $800.00    
Total                                            $4,500.00

- Extra/ emergency funds               $900.00
- tithe to local Haiti church             $600.00   
Total                                            $1,500.00

Grand Total                                $6,000.00

One great lesson that Tim Williams taught me on our first trip was that putting money into the local economy was important. This is why we purchased many of our supplies that we gave out to the orphanages. It filled a need and put money into the local economy.

I recently read an article about the upcoming rebuild/ reconstruction phase of Haiti. In the article they talk about the need to restrict the involvement of organizational/ volunteer work in Haiti. At first glance I was offended. "How dare they not want organizational/ volunteer workers? Don't they know how much money we will save them?" Then it hit me, volunteer work takes away from paid work for the locals, and money that would otherwise go into the local economy. I realized the importance of the local economy having a shot in the arm with locals making a regular wage. With unemployment so high before the earthquake, Haiti could really use the economic boost that this rebuild effort can bring.

This is why I have so much going into interpreters and transportation. I don't just want to go to Haiti, do what I do, and leave as cheaply as possible. I want to be a blessing to Haiti and right now one way to bless them would be to employ everybody that I can. These are real needs that I have while I am there that I may be able to get around if I worked really hard at it, but I want to help in a real way. This means hiring locals for interpreter and transportation needs. If you add it up, it is only $20/day for an interpreter and $80/day for transportation. All in all, not very expensive, but a big boost for those that I hire.

I have been contacted by three different people we worked with while in Haiti acquiring about my return so they can have work. I know that I cannot hire all three at once, but the plan is to hire all three of them periodically while I'm there. I have interpreter and transportation needs while there and I know these people are the best for what I need. This is the best way that Right Side Up Ministries can have the biggest impact in Haiti. To give people a handout will help them for the moment, but to employ them will help them in the long term.

I have come to realize that the biggest mistake of nonprofit organizations and volunteers in the long term recovery is to rely solely on volunteer work rather than to hire locals. Sure it costs more to hire the locals than to work with volunteers, but the goal of Right Side Up Ministries it to have a  long term impact in Haiti. We want to help people get back on their feet. All three of the people we worked with daily in Haiti had real jobs that no longer exist. They will remain unemployed until there are some serious rebuilding efforts put into action.

So, in conclusion, this is what it will cost for me to return to Haiti for a one month stay. This is what it will cost for each additional month that I return. I know that it is a large amount, but as you can see, it is money well spent.

If you would like to help this next phase of RSUM in Haiti simply click the "DONATE" button below or visit the RSUM web page for more info.

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For more info or for a tax deductible donation please visit the RSUM page.

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