Social media is a major part of the Haiti relief effort - Help Haiti Now

The catastrophic 7.0 magnitude earthquake to hit Haiti on Tuesday, the worst earthquake in Haiti in over 200 years, has resulted in unimaginable destruction, with death tolls estimated in the tens of thousands. Thousands of buildings have been destroyed, including the National Palace, akin to the White House in the US, Parliament, schools, and hospitals. 

However, if there is any relative upside to this disaster, it has been the universal and immediate bond of altruism across the world as a global flood of support and donations as soon as the news of the earthquake hit the social media networks. Within one day, the viral fundraising campaign via Twitter and Facebook raised over $5 million for the Red Cross's relief efforts. @RedCross tweeted: "text "HAITI" to 90999 to donate $10 to Red Cross relief efforts in #haiti" on Twitter, and within minutes, this message spread throughout the world via social networks, facebook status messages, and twitter updates and retweets. The one day total of $5 million that's been raised so far by the Red Cross far exceeds the 2009 mobile text donation total of nearly $4 million, said a spokeswoman for the organization which undeniably proves the power and necessity of social media and viral information dissemination to mobilize action. 

In 2005, Haitian-born rapper Wyclef Jean founded a nonprofit organization, Yele Haiti, to provide global awareness for his homeland, the poorest in the Western hemisphere. Yele has become another major fundraising organization for disaster relief efforts in Haiti, either via the website or via text: "Text "Yele" to 501501 to donate $5 to YELE HAITI. Your money will help with relief efforts. They need our help..please help if you can" (as @wyclef initially tweeted). Within 1 hour the system was overloaded and within a day Yele had received $1 million in donations.

Excellent additional organizations to donate to include Oxfam, who promise that "we are providing clean water, shelter and sanitation and helping people recover – your donation will go immediately to the most critical needs in Haiti, and we will ensure that every penny is used wisely" and Doctors Without Borders (Medicins Sans Frontieres), who state on their website, that "we have already treated more than 1,000 people on the ground in Haiti following Tuesday's earthquake, but the needs are huge. An inflatable hospital with operating theatres is expected to arrive in the next 24 hours."

I am overwhelmed with profound sadness for the people of Haiti, but am somewhat buoyed by the glimmer of light that manifests in the power of global empathy and outpouring of generosity in the face of such tragedy. My only wish is that a similar mobilization of attention and resources would manifest in a proactive way to protect and nurture our planet and halt further harm (massive deforestation, unthinkable wastestream contributions, mountaintop mining explosions, overfishing the oceans, global pollution, etc.) resulting from human hands. Ignored amidst the immediacy of this disaster is the simple fact that earthquakes and volcanoes are triggered by climate change, and as the natural balance of earth's climate becomes more disrupted, and global warming careens out of control, geological disasters will occur with increasing frequency and severity.

Support Doctors Without Borders in Haiti


  1. I can't wait to see the future of technology. It's already amazing with social media as you said. I think social media will be the competition (if it isn't already) to the mega-corp news agencies.

    I can't imagine what will come next!! It seems we can't push any further but just when I think that, something new blows up on the scene. Part of the reason I want to live to be fairly old is to simply witness more history.

  2. I completely agree! I can barely believe how far we've come in the past decade, let alone the last century. Things seem to be moving at an exponentially rapid pace, which kind of scares me actually - particularly as the speed of development affects the earth... I would like to see more and more innovation that does not come at the expense of the planet; I think the future will be in these sustainable technologies!