As reports detailing the death and destruction in Haiti caused by Tuesday's earthquake continue to shock the world, corporations, individuals, relief agencies and NGOs, and foundations are contributing record-breaking amounts of cash and in-kind donations to support emergency relief and long-term rebuilding efforts there, multiple news sources report.
With travel to and in the country still severely hampered, international relief workers are struggling to deliver aid to survivors increasingly desperate for food, clean water, and medical supplies while racing to save those who may still be alive in the rubble. Foundations responding to the disaster include the Open Society Institute, which announced an initial $4 million — to be split equally among Doctors Without Borders, Save the Children, CARE, and Catholic Relief Services — to support relief efforts for victims of the disaster; the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which gave $1 million to Catholic Relief Services; and the Pew Charitable Trusts, which has contributed a total of $500,000 to the American Red Cross and CARE.
According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, U.S.-based corporations had donated at least $43.7 million to relief efforts as of noon Friday. Recently announced gifts include $2.5 million from GE; $2 million each from Citigroup and Amgen; $1 million each from Goldman Sachs, PepsiCo, Baxter International, JPMorgan Chase, Major League Baseball, and the Jefferies Group; and $500,000 each from Yum! Brands, Unilever, the McDonald's Corporation, and Target, which is also donating a million meals to the region.
In addition, Nestle Waters North America announced a $1 million donation of bottled water; Eli Lilly & Co. contributed $250,000 to relief efforts and will match its employees' donations up to $250,000; and Business Wire, CSRWire, and PR Newswire have offered free distribution of press releases related to the disaster.
Several celebrities also have announced donations, including Grammy Award-winning musician Wyclef Jean, whose Yéle Haiti organization has received a $3 million donation from golfer Tiger Woods; actors Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, whose foundation gave $1 million to Doctors Without Borders; and supermodel Gisele Bundchen, who gave $1.5 million to the Red Cross.
Meanwhile, the Red Cross has announced an additional $9 million for relief efforts in the devastated nation, bringing its total commitment to $10 million. According to the New York Times, as of Thursday night the agency had collected more than $35 million, surpassing the amount it raised over a comparable two-day period after Hurricane Katrina and the Indian Ocean tsunami. More than $5 million of the total was raised through its mobile text message campaign.
And the government of France is asking creditor countries to speed up plans to cancel the country's debt before the scheduled date of 2014.
Although the situation on the ground is grim for all who survived the quake, experts warn that support is especially needed for child victims of the disaster. "Something like 40 percent to 50 percent of the population of Port-au-Prince is kids," Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness and president of the Children's Health Fund, told the Times. "Kids are much more fragile — a thirty-pound block of a wall that would only seriously injure an adult will kill a child. They die much more rapidly of dehydration, of loss of blood, of shock....Everything about this is devastatingly worse for kids than for adults."