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How to Help Haiti: Volunteer Opportunities and Global Relief Efforts

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Haiti mapOn the day following the destructive earthquake in Haiti, international relief agencies are gearing up for a huge rescue mission.

People are just now getting a handle on the extent of the damage–buildings leveled, people buried in the rubble, bodies stacked in the streets. Haiti’s Prime Minister said today that the quake could have killed well over 100,000 people.

Keep reading to learn more about volunteer efforts in Haiti and how you can help.

The 7.0 magnitude quake struck Haiti just before five o’clock local time yesterday evening. The epicenter was less than ten miles from Port-au-Prince, the crowded capital of Haiti.

The quake was the most powerful to hit Haiti in more than 200 years and toppled dozens of key buildings, including the presidential palace, the UN peacekeeping headquarters, and a major hotel.

Find out the latest: Haiti Earthquake: Breaking News Updates & Donation Resources. Don’t miss these Haiti Disaster Scam Warnings.

Haitian boyWithout passable roads, electricity, or phone service, witnesses say it is difficult to definitively assess the damage. But according to the International Red Cross, up to 3 million people could be homeless, injured or dead (out of a total population of 9 million). The hospitals are already packed and thousands are still missing or trapped in buildings.

With Haiti in such dire need of aid, nations all over the world are pledging their assistance.

The UN is issuing an international appeal for funds; Germany is sending 1 million euros in immediate aid; the Inter-American Development Bank is providing $200,000 in immediate aid; the United States, Britain, Canada and France are sending search and rescue teams with dogs and heavy equipment; and many more relief efforts are already under way.

Many concerned citizens are looking for opportunities to volunteer in Haiti, but those are usually limited to people with technical skills in health or engineering, or people with prior disaster experience. If you want to register your skills for a potential volunteer opportunity, you can visit the Center for International Disaster Information’s registration page.

For more information, visit our Caribbean Travel section. Or to learn more about relief & recovery efforts, visit our Natural Disasters section.

Red Cross LogoBecause it is so difficult to get to Haiti right now, the best way to help immediately is through monetary donations, which allow relief organizations to buy the items for those in need. If you want to make an immediate donation, just text “HAITI” to “90999″ and a donation of $10 (charged to your cell phone bill) will automatically be given to the Red Cross to help with their relief efforts.

Click here to learn more about how to make a donation and what organizations are doing to help www.interaction.org. And be sure to watch out for scams.

Whenever disaster strikes, scammers prey on the noble urges of those who want to help. To find out if the charity you’re thinking of donating to is worthwhile, check out CharityNavigator.org for reviews on these organizations. They also offer Tips for Giving During a Crisis.

Remember, even though it may be difficult to get to Haiti right now, the recovery effort will be lengthy and they will continue to need your help when the story ceases to dominate the headlines.

By Dan Bence for PeterGreenberg.com.

Related links: National Geographic, The Times, Los Angeles Times, USAID

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