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Educators Mustering Aid for Haiti Earthquake Victims

By Cynthia McCabe and Sara Robertson

January 14, 2010 — The international educators union, Education International, concerned about the humanitarian impact of the devastating earthquake which struck Haiti earlier this week, has launched a special fund for the families of teachers affected.

The International Solidarity Fund will also help support the Haitian teachers union — the Confédération National des Enseignants d’Haïti — as it tries in the coming weeks and months to re-establish its work of caring for teachers and promoting education.

Communication with those in the country has been extremely difficult due to the wide-scale destruction, but Education International officials say they persist in trying to establish contact with colleagues in Haiti. Initial reports suggest that the destruction and loss of life is considerable.

The Haiti Press Network reports that many school buildings have collapsed and that hundreds of students are trapped under the rubble. The President of Haiti, René Préval, has described a bleak situation to The Miami Herald, saying, “Schools have collapsed. There are a lot of schools that have a lot of dead people in them.”

National Education Association Executive Director John Wilson shared the concerns felt by member educators around the country.

“We are all concerned about the plight of our brothers and sisters in Haiti,” he said. The Education International Solidarity Fund channels support directly to CNEH members in Haiti who have been hit hard by this earthquake. The funds are managed by Education International; disbursements will be made first to secure lives and second to support the resumption of education. This is a safe way to ensure that relief funds go directly to teachers and positively support children.

Checks can be made out to the National Education Association; which will be forwarded directly to EI for humanitarian assistance to CNEH.  These can be sent to:
 Haiti Earthquake Recovery
 National Education Association
 1201 16th Street NW, Suite 614
 Washington DC 20036

At the local level, NEA members are lending a hand.

Kevin Deely, an English teacher and NEA leader in Easton, Pennsylvania, contacted members of the Eastern Area Education Association to begin brainstorming the most efficient way to raise money.

“If we can’t be on the ground, we definitely want to help in whatever way we can,” said Deely.

White House officials on Thursday shared resources for monitoring the situation in Haiti and aiding in the relief efforts. For the most up to date information throughout the coming days, they are referring citizens to http://www.whitehouse.gov/HaitiEarthquake.

Cash donations are the most efficient and effective way to help the relief effort in Haiti right now. They allow humanitarian organizations to purchase (often within the affected region itself) the exact type and quantity of items needed by those affected by the crisis. Read about the advantages of monetary donations here. You can immediately donate to the Red Cross to assist the relief effort.

Contribute online to the Red Cross , or donate $10 to be charged to your cell phone bill by texting "HAITI" to "90999." You can also find more ways to help through the Center for International Disaster Information , or through USAID’s interactive website , which has a list of NGOs and instructions on how to help: http://www.usaid.gov/.


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