MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – A group of community leaders spearheading relief efforts for hurricane-ravaged Haiti are making an appeal for cash instead of clothing and supplies.
"If we repeat the mistake we made after the 2010 earthquake, where so many goods that could have been purchased in Haiti were given to the country free, which forced the closing of many businesses, the economy will crumble again," Miami-Dade Commission Chair Jean Monestime, who is among those leading the effort, said.
Monestime, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Miami's consul general to Haiti, Gandy Thomas, traveled to Port-au-Prince Saturday to meet with Haitian government officials and social service representatives.
They agree that relief organizations already on the ground there, including aid organizations from the United States and European Union, have the ability to supply food, water and emergency supplies for two to four weeks, but lack the funding to rebuild schools, roads and businesses.
"They have plenty of food, clothing, water. What we need now (is) cash money. We need cash money to reinvigorate the economy," Thomas said.
The Miami-based Sant La organization is taking the lead as fiscal agent for the effort, and promises full transparency.
"What we have learned this time around is that we're going to be involved, front and center in helping coordinate relief efforts," executive director Gepsie Metellus said. "We will guarantee the transparency, guarantee that the dollars go where they are supposed to, and also guarantee the accountability," she said.