In early August of this year, Haiti was affected by a 7.3 magnitude earthquake, more powerful than the 2010 earthquake which killed, injured, and displaced hundreds of thousands of people. This most recent earthquake came as the country was already reeling from a presidential assassination and continued unrest. The death toll has risen to over 2,200 people, with over 300 people still missing.
The country has experienced immeasurable consequences in the aftermath of the quake. The school year will be further disrupted, amid already existing COVID delays and interruptions by gang violence and kidnappings. The earthquake destroyed 173 schools and damaged more than 270. And even in places where the buildings are still standing, many families will be unable to pay for schooling, due to personal impacts and the fact that the majority of Haiti’s schools are private.
Additionally, the quake will deepen one of the world’s longest recessions, creating a downturn even larger than originally forecasted. Unemployment rates, which worsened due to the pandemic and fuel organized crime in the country, are likely to rise. It has been estimated that the damage done exceeds $3 billion. On top of everything, about 400,000 people are still waiting for initial assistance.
Foundation Beyond Belief (FBB), in partnership with the American Humanist Association (AHA), has been in touch with volunteer team Haitian Freethinkers, a group with members who have family in and deep connections to Haiti. The organizations have joined forces to raise funds to support locally-led responses. Thanks to those who donated, the effort raised $11,171 through GiveLively and Facebook, in addition to money raised separately by Haitian Freethinkers.
The funds will be split between two causes. The first is Doctors Without Borders, which will use the money to help with their ongoing work in the aftermath of the earthquake, political upheaval, and economic issues in Haiti.
The remaining funds will go toward Mouvement de la Jeunesse pour la Liberte de la Pensee en Haiti (MOJELIPH), also known as the Freethinkers of Haiti or The Youth Movement for Freethought in Haiti, a sister society of the Freethought Society. The money will go toward distributing direct aid to vulnerable people in the rural countryside, who otherwise lack access to food,water, tents, sanitation, clothing, and other basic needs.
FBB and the AHA are very grateful to everyone who generously donated to this cause. Haiti has been unfortunate enough to face many challenges within the past few years and, as humanists, it is important to help with efforts on the ground as much as possible.
This article was originally published in The Humanist.