Americans Encouraged to Join Relief Groups for 'Long Run'

While the New Orleans Saints' Super Bowl win Sunday may have wiped away memories of the Gulf Coast hurricanes that hit their city five years ago, the mourning in Haiti – for many – still has no end in sight.

Nearly four weeks after Haiti's 7.0-magnitude quake devastated the capital city of Port-au-Prince and the surrounding areas, life remains difficult for thousands in Haiti who are without food, shelter, and – most desired – the loved ones they've lost.

"Haiti is a nation in mourning," commented Sian Platt, child protection specialist for the Christian humanitarian agency World Vision. "People have not just lost homes, jobs and everything they own, they are somehow trying to come to terms with the death of those who loved and supported them."

According to World Vision, more than 90 percent of the 150 people the agency has spoken with to date said they had lost loved ones – including friends, extended family or close family. They also said they needed to make time for grieving and establish normal routines in order to recover.

"Studies have found that children and adults heal faster if they are able to find routine and access the basics of life," explained Platt.

"A safe, dry home, regular meals, clean water, meaningful activity and work, are all needed in order to strengthen a resilient city now in mourning," she added.

And as rebuilding the country will take years and not months, U.S.-based groups such as World Vision are encouraging Americans to continue donating and not give in to donor fatigue.

"Compassion fatigue is not an option for our aid workers on the frontlines, and we are asking our donors and the public to stand with us for the long run as well," Edward Brown, World Vision's senior director of humanitarian and emergency affairs.

Over the first three weeks since the quake struck, more than $611 million was raised or pledged through some 81 U.S. charities, according to the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. While that figure is more than the $519 million that was raised in the first three weeks after the South Asia Tsunami in 2004, it is less than $676 million that was raised over that same time span following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001, and much less than the $1.12 billion raised after hurricanes ravaged the Gulf Cost in 2005.

Still, experts at World Vision say the donations thus far for Haiti efforts have pleasantly surprised them given the crippling recession and high unemployment.

The charity's disaster fundraising expert, Randy Strash, said Haiti is an example of "compassion resilience," or Americans' ability to remain generous in a "mega disaster" even as the economy makes giving difficult.

But Strash is hoping that more Americans – through making "mega disaster" donations – will be inspired to get involved in fighting poverty and saving lives on a more regular basis.

As a Christian relief and development organization dedicated to helping children and their communities, World Vision works in nearly 100 countries around the globe, combating the root causes of poverty and responding quickly when disaster strikes.

World Vision also works as an advocacy group to tackle the causes of poverty, protect children and promote justice.

So far, World Vision has raised more than $30 million in the United States for its efforts in Haiti – roughly five percent ahead of the charity's Asia tsunami fundraising at the same stage in the response.

The agency, which has worked in Haiti for 30 years, began distributing aid within 24 hours after the Jan. 12 quake.

Donations to World Vision's Haiti Quake Response can be made at, by calling 888-56-CHILD, or by texting the word "GIVE" to 20222.

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