HHI Seeks More Haiti Donations

Almost three months after the 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Port-au-Prince, Haiti, the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative is asking for more donations.

In an e-mail sent on Thursday to its partners and affiliates, HHI warned that the Fond Parisien Disaster Recovery Center, a field hospital on Haiti’s side of the border with the Dominican Republic, is at risk of closing.

HHI—the University-wide academic and research organization for response to humanitarian crises—has been coordinating efforts with other Harvard organizations since the earthquake’s onset. Now, the University’s initial wave of response to on-site relief seeks renewed financial interest.

“It’s gotten to the point [where] we can’t rely on donated time for the life of the rehabilitation center that we’re running,” said Vincenzo Bollettino, director of programs and administration at HHI.

All the Harvard doctors who have flown to the island to help the relief effort have paid for their own flights, Bollettino said.

And though the Disaster Recovery Center has already treated over 1200 patients, more funds are needed to pay staff—over 100 local employees—as well as to procure pharmaceuticals and other medical supplies.

“It’s the monetary [donations] that we really need,” Bollettino said. “But those won’t last forever either.”

Aside from receiving personal and corporate gifts, HHI has also applied for grants from the United Nations crisis relief fund and the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, Bollettino said. Although the foundations have been encouraging, no grants have yet been formally given.

In the meantime, the actual relief effort at the Disaster Recovery Center—the largest field hospital in Haiti—has been cited by the media as the best run of its kind, Bollettino said.

Surgical work has been aided by the U.S. Navy Ship Comfort, for example, which has performed many surgeries offshore before the patients are sent to the Disaster Recovery Center for rehabilitation.

Still, HHI needs more money “so that we can at least bridge the cost of running this facility until a larger donor comes in,” Bollettino said.

All donations are tax deductible, and any donation amount will be “immediately useful on the ground,” the e-mail stated.

—Staff writer Xi Yu can be reached xyu@college.harvard.edu.

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