For South Florida Haitians, desire to help rebuild their island nation following Hurricane Matthew has been compounded by concerns about whether the donations will be used for its intended purposes.
People have been far more generous with supplies than cash, according to local charity officials, who say money is more badly needed for vital infrastructure and construction projects.
Jeff Lozama, executive director of the Man Dodo Humanitarian Foundation in Miami Gardens, said getting monetary donations has been difficult. The non-profit works with MEBSH, the largest Baptist mission organization in Haiti.
“People are concerned with donating money after the quake,” Lozama said, referring to incompetence and corruption issues following the 2010 temblor. “There’s been a little bit of reluctance.”
The Rev. Reginald Jean-Mary led collections at Notre Dame D’Haiti Catholic Church in Little Haiti for clothing, water and other supplies immediately after Hurricane Matthew tore through Haiti.
Now he’s moved on to raising funds. He said the country is in need of building materials and supplies for children going back to school. Jean-Mary said the church is working with Caritas, a Catholic humanitarian aid organization that’s currently in Haiti.
“They send us an assessment of what’s happened and they tell us what they actually need,” he said.
Although people are willing to donate goods, people are more hesitant to donate money, Jean-Mary said.
“After what has happened with the earthquake, people are skeptical,” he said.
The temblor killed more than 100,000 people and destroyed 250,000 homes in 2010. Five years after the earthquake, a report surfaced that stated the American Red Cross only built six homes in Haiti after raising $500 million in donations.
Jean-Mary said people’s reluctance to donate money this time around has presented a challenge for rebuilding efforts.
“We can have tons of goods, but if we don’t have means it’s not going to be easy,” he said.
Lozama said he also wants to help rebuild the country, which is why monetary donations are so important.
Part of the money the foundation raises will go towards grants for small businesses, something he said is an important step in getting Haiti back to work.
“There is no way we can say we can help everybody,” he said. “We want to be able to collect as much as we can, because these are people that have lost everything.”
Lozama said the amount he and others can help is limited by how much cash they can raise. “Everyone now is thinking supplies is all they need in Haiti, but that’s not the case,” he said. “If you don’t have money, you can’t get things done.”