Two Santa Barbara organizations — Direct Relief and ShelterBox U.S.A. — are working to provide aid in Haiti following the devastating 7.2 earthquake on August 14.
Direct Relief — an organization that works to equip doctors and nurses around the world with life-saving medical resources — has sent roughly 190 pallets of aid packages containing supplies such as masks, gloves, protective gear, and antibiotics.
Direct Relief Vice President of Communications Tony Morain said the organization will additionally provide a response team to assist humanitarian efforts to deliver their aid packages, in an effort to relieve some of the strain on Haitian hospitals that are overwhelmed with fighting COVID-19.
“It was really bad before the earthquake,” Morain said. “Only a very small portion of the population is vaccinated.”
Morain said Direct Relief had doctors in Haiti before the quake to help fight COVID-19, but now some are pivoting to help those who are injured.
“The same doctors who were treating COVID-19 are now being redeployed to treat earthquake victims,” Morain said.
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The death toll in Haiti recently surpassed 2,000, and ShelterBox U.S.A. — which provides emergency shelter and tools to families displaced by natural disasters around the world — reports that more than 80,000 homes have been destroyed.
ShelterBox U.S.A. Senior Director of Fundraising Sarah Robinson said there is currently a team working to assess the needs of those most affected, but aid is ready and waiting to be sent out from its base in Panama.
Following the earthquake, Haiti was hit by the tropical storm Grace, which Robinson said has made transportation much more difficult due to heavy rain and mudslides.
Robinson said security is another issue for delivering vital supplies, with gang violence rising after the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse on July 7.
“Police escorts are taking aid into the areas that need assistance,” Robinson said.
Despite all its difficulties, both organizations have dozens of volunteers working around these obstacles to provide vital supplies and support.