HAITI: How and why Pakistanis can help

Excerpts from appeal and joint statement by Todd Shea and Ethan Casey at the Alive and Well in Pakistan blog, addressed to Pakistani-Americans:

The aftermath of the October 8, 2005 earthquake was Pakistan’s finest moment. The nation’s citizens, government, military, and expatriates stepped up together and contributed money, material, time, professional skills and other resources to alleviate the suffering of the survivors of the devastating quake that killed more than 80,000 people.

The 7.0 earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12 has devastated that small, desperately poor country at least as much as the 2005 earthquake devastated Pakistan. Pakistan has resources that Haiti lacks – like a competent, patriotic army and an affluent expatriate community.

Todd Shea, who had experience as a relief worker in Manhattan after 9/11, in Sri Lanka after the tsunami, and in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, came to Pakistan after the Kashmir earthquake in 2005 and stayed on, founding CDRS Pakistan to address the longer-term needs of people in the area. He also responded in early 2009 when nearly three million people were displaced by the fighting in Swat.

Ethan Casey has written two books trying to help foster a more thoughtful conversation between Americans and Pakistanis. Ethan also has a personal connection with Haiti dating back to 1982, when he first went there as a teenager with his father, who later founded the Colorado Haiti Project. Ethan has visited Haiti many times, most recently in 2004.

Todd has put his current U.S. fundraising tour for CDRS Pakistan on hold to provide logistical support to those doing urgent relief work in Haiti, like Dr. Paul Farmer’s organization, Partners in Health, and the Colorado Haiti Project. Todd is flying from Washington, DC to Miami on January 14 and onwards to Haiti.

Pakistani-American professionals are urged to help, especially physicians whose skills could save lives. Those who responded after the earthquake in Pakistan have experience that could be invaluable in Haiti. If you want to help, beyond donating money – which is also needed – please email Ethan.

Learn more about Haiti by reading the New York Times op-ed by Tracy Kidder, author of the book Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World.

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