Friday, January 22, 2010

Oxfam is Impressive in Haiti With Their “First Class” Humanitarian Response

After the disaster hit in Haiti and my wife and I wanted to make a financial contribution, we then needed to determine which organization we would like to support. We wanted to support an organization that would step up and make a real difference in their humanitarian response. I have to admit; we relied on the research of one of my friends and selected Oxfam as our choice to donate funds.  Why did we have the confidence in our friend for this important decision? Well, he is a top prosecuting attorney for our area, is a fellow Rotarian, a mountain climber, a triathlete, and reads 52 books a year (these are biographies, history, current events, and others that are not of your big print variety). The bottom line – he is a real renaissance man and does not take his research lightly! Well, Andy, as usual, definitely hit the mark on his Oxfam recommendation.
After we made our contribution, there was a story in the Wall Street Journal on Saturday, January 16th, that criticized the delay between the time a contribution is made via texting on a cell phone and when the funds actually reached the charity. The author of the article discovered that the phone bill in many cases needed to be paid before the funds actually were forwarded to the charity.

After reading the article, we became concerned that the funds that we donated via our credit card may not reach the intended recipients until after our credit card bill was paid at the first of the month.

I responded to our concerns by sending an e-mail to Oxfam asking them to clarify the financial timing and impact. In response, I received the following:

“Dear (Fritz),

Thank you for writing.  I’ll do my best to answer your questions.

Oxfam knew Haiti was prone to disasters, so we had stored emergency supplies around the Caribbean for a case like this.  Some of those stores were destroyed in the quake, but the rest have been put into use.  And we had several offices and about 200 staff in Haiti even before the quake.  So in a way, we were working on this disaster even before it happened.

In addition to advance preparations, we keep a reserve of money so we can go into quick action when a disaster does strike.  We are not waiting for the donations to hit our bank account before we can act.

At this point, the holdup is not money but logistics.  As I’m sure you know, it’s very difficult to get people and supplies into Haiti right now.    We are getting them in as fast as possible.    Haiti was in such poor shape to begin with that there will be years of rebuilding work to do.  The money that doesn’t get used for immediate aid will be put to good use on Haiti’s long-term recovery and development.

Julia Wise
Donor Services
Oxfam America
1-800-776-9326 ext. 2507”

What a top-notch response to alleviate our concerns! We are very pleased with our financial support of Oxfam for their role in the humanitarian efforts in Haiti. We recommend anyone wishing to make a difference in Haiti to contribute to Oxfam America. Their website is

Thank you!


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