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Haiti: With new quake relief efforts, Haitian-Americans try to avoid 2010 mistakes

In 2010, by the time Haiti reached the two-week mark of the Jan. 12 earthquake, Haitian-Americans were among thousands of donors who gave millions to the American Red Cross, relying on the relief organization to assist their compatriots. Five years later, an investigative report revealed that the Red Cross built six homes with the $500 million collected after months of fundraising.

Now, as the two-week mark of the 2021 earthquake approaches, Haiti’s relief efforts have a different look. Feeling burned, instead of relying on a centralized group, more Haitian-American organizations and individuals are participating directly in a variety of response initiatives. 

Haitian-American churches, social services groups, restaurants, health mission groups, trade associations, social media stars and many more have been collecting money and goods for Haiti. With the failures from the 2010 earthquake on their minds, the collectors have one common goal: Not to repeat the same mistakes that left scores of victims helpless and homeless years later. 

Some people, like Dr. Ernest Barthelemy, have expressed reservations about rushing to travel to Haiti, until they know they are needed, instead choosing to support doctors and relief workers on the ground, in the week after the disaster.

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