UN forces performing rescue operations in Haiti. Photo: UN Development Programme.

After spending a day at the Haitian Consulate in New York City, we have a clearer picture about the best way to channel our energy and assistance.
Please donate now to support relief efforts:

– UNICEF. Go online to unicefusa.org/haitiquake or call (800) 4UNICEF.

– Red Cross. Go online to redcross.org, or call (800) REDCROSS.

– Direct Relief International. Donate online at directrelief.org.

– Mercy Corp. Go online to mercycorps.org or mail checks to Haiti Earthquake Fund, Dept. NR, PO Box 2669, Portland, Ore. 97208 or call (888) 256-1900

[Special Note 1/14/10 @2:15 EST]

We are overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and willing volunteers. Thank you.

At this point we are working in direct concert with the Haitian Consulate in NYC and established orgs to determine their needs and to wait for their direction.

Please note that Matador will not be taking volunteers to Haiti who are unqualified or unskilled as medical professionals and/or proven disaster relief.

If you’d like to support volunteer efforts in Haiti, please consider donating to one of the orgs listed here.

We’ll continue to keep you updated as we learn more.

Here’s the update as of January 14, 2010, 7:30 PM EST

I’m writing after having spent the better part of today at the Haitian Consulate of New York City, where I met with the Consul and representatives from American Airlines to discuss how Matador and the immense energy of those of you who have reached out can best be directed to help Haiti intelligently and meaningfully.

The highlights of that meeting are as follow:

1. The on-the-ground situation in Haiti and basic infrastructure cannot support an influx of volunteers at this point.

American flew two planes of equipment from San Juan, Puerto Rico into Port-au-Prince yesterday. The American representatives indicated that the airport, while open, may not be structurally sound and the control tower needs repairs. In addition, commercial planes are having difficulty landing, as aid and military planes are taking up a great deal of space at the airport. They do not have an immediate timetable for flying people into Port-au-Prince.

In addition, the Consul indicated that fresh water and other aspects of infrastructure are not sufficiently intact to be able to support an influx of volunteers. Although it’s difficult to watch the destruction and need that undeniably exist on the ground right now, the Consul considers a mass deployment of volunteers to be an action that would complicate current efforts.

2. American will prioritize delivery of medication and medical supplies.

Immediate flights will deliver medication and medical supplies. Commercial carriers are limited in their ability to deliver other items because of TSA and packaging regulations.

3. American will be collaborating with Matador to organize the collection of donated goods in New York City.

Most relief efforts need to be organized locally at this point. Matador will be collaborating with American to collect, sort, and pack donated goods in New York City. We are currently speaking with another NYC organization about the logistics of shipping those goods. We will continue working directly with the Consul to determine which organization will receive and distribute the goods in Haiti.

Additional information will be provided about the NYC collection effort after a logistics meeting tomorrow afternoon.

4. If you are not in New York City, you can still help.

In addition to donating money to the trusted organizations indicated at the opening of this article, you can reach out to your local Consulate to determine how you can best direct your efforts. As Matador members organizing efforts in other US cities are able to coordinate with their local Consulates, we will post their information here. Such efforts are currently underway in Washington, D.C., Chicago, and Miami.

5. Be patient.

My mom has a saying: “Hurry up and wait.”

It’s hard to sit still and watch the news of such devastation and not feel compelled to help. Hundreds of the messages we have received start by saying “I have to go to Haiti to help.” Matador will continue working on organizing a trip; however, all of our contacts and organizations with direct contact to Port-au-Prince have indicated that the time for that trip is not now. We will maintain our list of volunteers and provide information about on-the-ground opportunities as they arise.