If you can’t afford to send money, you can still help. Donate to Oxfam by taking your stuff – books, clothes, whatever is sold – along to your local shop. And, seriously, we will take your change. We will take your incredibly small change, and we’ll add it to the total, and if you’re a UK taxpayer, we’ll Gift Aid it and help stretch your donation even further.
I’m an Oxfam volunteer and I’m extremely proud of what I do, but it breaks me that we can’t do more. From the customer-staff grapevine, to bulletins via the website & radio, the second wave of horror stories begin. In a deadening, dreadful way, we’re getting used to the horrible statistics and the terrible pictures and the sounds of the Haitian people screaming in the streets.
Now, on top of that, it’s the stories about the airport suffering powercuts, meaning planes could only land in daylight or across the border; about aid workers going missing in the chaos, of charities forced back or delayed because the UN can’t invite them, because, of course, half the UN workers are dead and their building is in ruins. The UN in Haiti just doesn’t exist any more. As a result, we’re facing the worst result of all – people, even Oxfam stalwarts, skeptical about donating because they don’t believe the money will ‘really’ get through.
It is. It will. I tip my hat to the mythical race of MSF – not so much first-in, last-out as first-in, never-out, a white-knuckle bunch of friendly, death-defying geniuses (coughColin Beckworthcough) – but Oxfam is… well, Oxfam’s pretty hardcore. We already have people on the ground, and that video – posted yesterday – shows there’s more aid on the way from Bicester (otherwise the land of roundabouts and discounted Ralph Lauren stash). Via Oxfam, you can listen to Louis Belanger’s ipadio phlog. ipadio is a service that lets you phonecast from anywhere in the world. Louis is an Oxfam spokesperson, and he’s in Haiti now. As of Sunday afternoon, he’ll be in Port-au-Prince itself. His latest phlog, dated 16th January at 20:56, talks about the 15 camps being set up by the Haitian government. Louis’s information on the water distribution is as follows:
[…] for Oxfam today, we’ve started a big water distribution we’re continuing – we started yesterday, but today it’s expanding, so two major water distributions are going to take place, especially one in one of the neighbourhoods that has been affected the most, the neighbourhood of Carrefour. So we’re looking at distributing over 10,000 litres of water to hundreds of Haitians who desperately need it. We also have a shipment through, a British Airways flight that is coming in to Santo Domingo later tonight with 10,000 tons of humanitarian equipment ranging between tents or latrines, and other equipment that we need on the ground.
Don’t let the third wave of Haiti stories be one of disease spreading through a hungry and dehydrated population. If we don’t act now, an epidemic will follow. Donate to Oxfam’s Haiti Appeal here and now. If not, take your donations – cash or goods – down to your local Oxfam shop on Monday morning.
But if you possibly can, put your hand in your pocket. It doesn’t matter if you’re giving copper, silver, gold, paper or plastic. It’ll go all the way, and it will make a difference.
Dr Sophie Duncan is Fellow in English at Christ Church, University of Oxford. She works regularly as a historical advisor and as a dramaturg for theatre, TV, radio and film. She likes theatre, detective fiction and cocktails.