Haiti: In Major Trouble

Marathons are hard, and when people do things that are hard, it seems that other people want to get behind them and provide support however possible.  What inspires me is that so often the support is accepted by the runner and then given to a charitable cause.  I like this idea, because at the end of the day, I’ll be tired, but I’ll still be the very fortunate person that I am.  If you want misfortune, take a gander at Haiti.

On January 12, 2010, Haiti suffered a 7.0 earthquake.  I know that the memories of the devastation on TV and in the news will be forever in my mind.  The government of Haiti lost their building; the president was homeless.  Untold thousands trapped underneath the rubble.  Three and half months later, the crisis is as bad as ever.  Food, which has never been a strongsuit for this battered nation, is urgently needed, along with potable water.  With the rainy season beginning, the race to build shelter is on and dire.  The Red Cross puts the death toll around 250,000, and Rene Preval upped that estimate to 300,000.

Even before the earthquake, Haiti was the poorest nation in the Americas by leaps and bounds, a fact that a string of storms in 2008 did much to exacerbate, with reconstruction costs exceeding $900 million, or 15% of GDP.  Corruption, deforestation, political instability, and crumbling infrastructure have done Haiti no favors.

The long-term relief needed in Haiti is staggering.  Right now, there are about 1.3 million homeless.  This article discusses the challenges associated with erecting temporary structures, and is discussing trying to get 500 homes built.  500.  For 1.3 million homeless.  Yeah.  They need help.

I’ve chosen then Clinton Foundation as my charity of choice for this effort.  There are a few reasons for this.

  • I’ve heard Slick Willy speak, and damn: he’s slick.  I like his style.  And he knows a thing or two about disaster relief.  Like having a strong drink after that whole Linda Tripp thing.
  • The Clinton Foundation gets 4 stars on Charity Navigator.  Over 94% of their money goes to the cause, not to administrative bullcrap.  The United Way has chapters below 80%.
  • Clinton knows how to get shit done.  He’s smart and folksy.  He can relate, and he can coordinate.  And props to anyone who can work with the Bushes and not have a heart attack (oh…wait…).

I’m hoping to raise at least $5,000 in pledges.  I’m asking for $138 to cover my registration fee (I pay for shoes, training food, etc), and the rest will be donated directly to Haiti relief efforts.  You can call me (510.282.1683), email me (spenser.tangsmith@gmail.com) or leave a comment below with your pledge amount.  I will be tallying the pledges and will update as necessary.  I will also be keeping a list of donors and their amounts for recognition on this blog and on Facebook (unless you specify otherwise, of course).

I’m asking for pledges only right now for three reasons.  1) I haven’t run the race yet. 2) If I do complete the marathon, those who pledge can donate directly, and thereby get their own little receipt for tax purposes.  3) If you don’t want to donate to the Clinton Foundation but still want to support Haiti, you can donate to one of the many other relief organizations.  For example, if you want to focus on medical care, you might want to donate to Partners in Health instead.

Thanks for reading and thanks for caring.  I gotta go run now.

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