Not that you care, really, what I think about Haiti, but it’s my blog, and you get what I give you. I watched the benefit concert Friday night, and thought it was very well-executed, with some great performances and great arrangements of classic songs by contemporary artists. My niece Audrey was in town taking her ordination exams and she crashed with us Friday night, so we watched it together. We were both impressed by Christina Aguilera and her longevity, and the arrangement that Justin Timberlake performed of one of my all-time favorite songs, Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, was good enough to make me ignore the fact that it was Justin Timberlake.
And then I bought the album off Amazon, and I’ve listened to it a couple times since then. It’s pretty solid, and I love the fact that less than 24 hours after the concert was aired, I had already downloaded it and was listening to it in my car. But I didn’t give anything to the Hope for Haiti charities, and I probably won’t.
I know, all of a sudden I’m Pat Robertson. That’s not it, really. I think it’s great that we’ve raised $58 million off that concert. And I think it’s great that the Red Cross raised $20 million via text messages. And I agree that it’s not enough. It’s going to take billions of dollars to rebuild (or in some cases build for the first time), and I don’t know where that money’s going to come from. I don’t begrudge anyone who wants to help out and give their cash to the charities that are providing disaster-specific relief, but in my conversations with Audrey I wanted to work on the infrastructure of the country, not just a band-aid. I know that the Red Cross needs money, and that there will be people on the ground with those organizations for months, but I wanted my money to go to something that would be left behind and be working for the greater good for a long time after Anderson Cooper and Sanjay Gupta were back home safe.
By the way, both of those guys rose in my estimation through through their actions during this crisis. Sometimes you have to remember that you’re a human being first and a journalist second, and I applaud both of them for putting down the reporter’s shield of dissociation when lives were at stake.
So after some research, and looking over the financials of the organization, I decided to give money to Water Missions International. This is a Charleston-based non-profit that provides water filtration systems to developing nations, and you can well imagine that there’s very little clean water in Haiti now that what rudimentary facilities that existed there two weeks ago have been flattened. The folks at WMI have already provided eight water filtration systems into Haiti since the quake, and they’re working to get more. These filtration systems can provide the daily clean water needs for up to 200 people per hour of operation, and once the systems are set up, maintenance chemicals are cheap and readily available. As a non-profit, their financials are readily available, and the vast majority of money taken in goes to program expenses (i.e. doing the actual work of the charity) as opposed to overhead or fundraising expenses. So their money flow looks good to me, and having run a non-profit back in the dark ages, I know a little about what those things are supposed to look like.
So that’s where my money is going – to bring clean water to the Haitian people not just today, but for years to come. I urge you, if you have not already given to the charity of your choice, to join me in supporting the work done by Water Missions International. Yes, they are a Christian organization. Yes, they may very well be a little preachy. No, I have not suddenly gotten all Bible-thumpy. but I think if you have to get a little preaching to go with your shit-free water, it’s a reasonable trade-off.