Ideas for the Justin Schuck Haiti Project In addition to interest generated in giving money, I was was surprised to receive many responses from people wanting to join me in service projects on the ground in Haiti once the immediate recovery is complete and the job of rebuilding the country can begin. Some very good ideas have been sent my way and I would like to share some of them with you now.
- Working with the World Society for the Protection of Animals
- Starting a non-profit to facilitate donations for the project. (The downside is that administration of a 501(c)3 would be complicated and I would need a lot of help from more experienced people to make this a reality.)
- Volunteering for the Red Cross
- Organizing Washington a national DC-based drive for air mattresses and home goods
- Building physical structures, including a school, small apartment building, homes and/or commercial buildings using green technology (especially utilizing ICF for its strength and energy efficiency)
- Organizing trips for mental health professionals to provide much needed care
- Creating a website where people in the U.S. can sign-up to host a Haitian family in their home, and provide access to jobs, health care, and education.
There are so many great ideas, even I have had a few. :) But, I want to hear more. Regardless of which projects we embark, we will need people who have compassionate hearts and a willingness to help—experience in construction is an obvious plus. Business owners: Be a part of the solution An important component of any aid project is corporate sponsorship. Because of the many tax benefits offered by donations to non-profit organizations, my friends and I are seriously considering this option. Regardless, I am asking for business owners to make pledges to help this effort. Here are some simple ways you can ask your employer to help.
- Ask your employer if they would be willing to donate your two-week salary to the project and allow you that time to volunteer. By donating your salary to the project, your employer will help cover the cost of travel and supplies.
- If your company is in a relevant trade, say construction or electrical engineering, see if they would be willing to donate tools, supplies and/or expertise to help organize a rebuilding project.
- If your company makes matching contributions to your own charitable donations, see if they would be willing to match not only your donations, but also the money you raise outside of work through friends and family.
- If you don't think you'll be able to work on a service project in Haiti, ask your employer to donate your vacation hours.
- Many companies are already involved with local and international charitable organizations. Ask your corporate fundraising or charity officer to make suggestions for organizations with which to collaborate.
- If you work for a skilled-trade organization, see if you can help job-raise (like fund-raise, except for jobs) so that incoming Haitian refugees can find work while they are here, while learning valuable skills they can take back with them to Haiti.
- If the company where you work has administrative or technical expertise in project management, especially disaster management, see if they would be willing to lend their expertise to our project.
There are many ways that your employer can help, so please if you have another idea, share it with me and your boss.
Get ready: How you can be prepared to ship out We are nowhere near the point of making any solid announcements about when we will embark on our first service project, but I urge you to start preparing. No matter how many gruesome images you see on television, nothing can fully prepare you for what you will see once you are on the ground.
Haiti has a tropical climate year-round so make sure to have light-weight clothing that protects your skin from the sun. From my experiences and travels I have put together a comprehensive list of items you will want to bring with you on any project in Haiti. Start gathering supplies now that you know you will likely need for your trip.
Toiletries are essential Here is an easy list of everyday supplies you will need. Make sure to have these in conveniently-sized unbreakable travel bottles.
- Toothpaste and travel toothbrush
- Bar soap, shampoo, moisturizer, aloe vera gel
- High SPF sunscreen and SPF lip balm (like Baz Luhrmann says: trust me on the sunscreen!)
- Tweezers, nail clippers, nail file, and small scissors
- Packaged damp towelettes for quick cleanups, I like Boots' 4-in-1 wipes from Target
- Facial tissues and toilet paper
- Rubbing alcohol, iodine and/or hydrogen peroxide for quickly disinfecting minor cuts, blisters and wounds.
- Bug repellent. (If you're like me you'll want the most chemical-laden, insect-arresting formula known to man. Like this 100% DEET option from REI.)
- Q-tips/cotton swabs
- Ladies: personal sanitary (maxi pads/tampons) and birth control supplies (both of which may be hard or impossible to find. A note about tampons: generally speaking, in the developing world and in non-western cultures, the use of tampons is not commonly accepted.)
First aid supplies are another must You'll want to pack a basic traveler's first aid kit, modified for your personal preferences—but include extra gauze and an ace bandage. If you plan on using an old kit from a previous trip, be sure to freshen it with new Band-Aids (I use only the flexible fabric-type), tape, etc. In addition to standard first aid items, you may want to pack the following:
- A blister kit, because nothing ruins a trip faster than a blister. Use Second Skin or Moleskin. Athletic tape is the strongest adhesive tape, and can be used to hold the Second Skin firmly in place, even in humid, wet conditions.
- Prescription drugs. Make sure all drugs are properly labeled and identified, and in their original prescription containers
- Advil, Excedrin, aspirin or a painkiller of choice
- Antibiotic ointment like Neosporin
- Some kind of anti-itch cream or ointment such as Benadryl or Hydro-cortisone for mosquito bites and minor rashes (common in Haiti)
- Allergy medicine/antihistamines such as Benadryl or Claritin
More than toiletries, bring water and snacks Bottled water may be hard to come by when we're on the ground, so you may want to bring some way to treat water just in case. Steripen makes a hand-held water purifier that disinfects with UV rays. Here are some other things you might need:
- Packages of powdered Gatorade or other re-hydration mix—this makes treated water taste better and provides sugar and other essential electrolytes
- Snacks from home. (No chocolate because it will melt.) Granola bars and energy bars are good; so are dried fruits and nuts
- Aluminum or stainless steel water bottle (I swear by my Sigg bottles from The Shop at Equinox.)
Miscellaneous supplies for travel comfort Every traveler sooner or later develops a list of essential comfort items. Here are some to consider:
- A baseball cap or safari-style hat (light colors reflect the sun better)
- Bandana (you have no idea how much this will come in handy)
- Extra glasses and/or contacts (get a cheap "disposable" pair from America's Best Contacts and Eyeglasses or ForEyes
- Sun glasses with UVA/UVB protection and wrap around the sides of the eyes (almost an essential)
- Sewing kit
- Pocket-sized brush and or comb for freshening up on the road
- Eye covers help you sleep even if lights are on, although I think we'll be so tired sleep will not be a problem.
- Ear plugs (Here's just a partial list of when these come in handy: Trying to sleep amid the cacophony of barking dogs, crowing roosters, and all night village music festival, helicopters and military convoys driving nearby.)
- Small notebook and pen (I'm a big fan of composition books and little flip-top reporter's notebooks.)
- An international cell phone or satellite phone
All of these items won't take up too much room in a suitcase, but they are well worth the weight and space for traveling dealing with the harsh climate, difficult transportation, bustling crowds, and challenging health conditions. I know the list is long. When it comes closer to our ship date we will put together a supplies packet. If we are lucky enough to receive some sponsorships then we may be able to provide this free of charge to volunteers—don't expect to bring any of this home with you.
But how can you really prepare yourself for a profound life-changing experience?
Spread the good word I need your help in spreading the word about the Justin Schuck Haiti Project. Share the site or my call to action on your websites, blogs, on Twitter and on Facebook. I am continuing to ask that when referring to the Justin Schuck Haiti Project you use the #JustinSchuckHaiti hashtag on Twitter and similar services. Also, @ me or DM me and I'll put you on my Twitter Haiti Service Project list.
Catch all the Haiti-related blog entries here: #Haiti