The team represents Mercy Corps' A-team of humanitarian first responders. The group is comprised of eight experts from around the world - coming from Africa, Asia, and North America - who have responded to devastating disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, the Sichuan earthquake in China and Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar.
Richard Jacquot, the agency's team leader, has directed relief operations in the war-torn Democratic Republic of the Congo, cyclone-battered Myanmar and the U.S. Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Bill Holbrook, Mercy Corps' newly appointed country director for Haiti, is a seasoned veteran of international aid work. He spent nearly 20 years serving the needs of impoverished communities in Haiti, Sudan and Azerbaijan. He has deep family ties and professional relationships in Haiti.
Mercy Corps will focus first on the immediate humanitarian needs on the ground - for water, food, temporary shelter supplies and much more. As the most basic needs are met, Mercy Corps' response team will transition from relief to long-term rebuilding and recovery efforts.
The agency plans to focus on three areas:
Health, clean water, and sanitation: Mercy Corps will help survivors access vital clean water and sanitation services through collaboration with ITT, a leader in water treatment and transport, and Partners in Health, an NGO that has been providing medical care to impoverished Haitians for more than 20 years.
Psychosocial support: Mercy Corps is preparing to provide post-trauma help to kids using Comfort for Kids, a counseling methodology developed by Mercy Corps and Bright Horizons, a global workplace childcare provider. Mercy Corps has used Comfort for Kids to help children process trauma after emergencies in post-9/11 New York City, Darfur, New Orleans, and most recently in 2008 after the earthquake in Sichuan, China.
Job creation: Mercy Corps is planning to initiate some form of cash-for-work in Haiti, paying earthquake survivors a daily wage to clear debris, restore buildings, and repair basic infrastructure. In post-tsunami Banda Aceh, Mercy Corps employed thousands through cash-for-work, enabling entire communities to rebuild, work together, and have the dignity of earning their own money and getting their economies back on track.
Mercy Corps is well positioned to respond to this week's massive earthquake. The agency has a long track record of helping people in the world's hardest places recover from natural disasters and conflict. Mercy Corps has aided families after earthquakes in Peru in 2007, China and Pakistan in 2008, and Indonesia last year.
The Mercy Corps team is confronted with the tremendous needs of earthquake survivors. Eyewitnesses in Haiti report extensive damage and chaos, and there are widespread casualties. Water, food, medical supplies and other basics are reported to be in desperately short supply. The Red Cross estimates that three million people in the quake-affected zone are in need of aid, and up to 50,000 people could be dead.
This week's powerful quake exacerbated an already dire humanitarian situation in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Plagued by hunger and political instability, this disaster has increased the needs of many impoverished families.
HOW TO HELP:
Haiti Earthquake Fund
PO Box 2669
Portland, OR 97208
Mercy Corps helps people in the world's toughest places turn the crises of natural disaster, poverty and conflict into opportunities for progress. Driven by local needs and market conditions, our programs provide communities with the tools and support they need to transform their own lives. Our worldwide team of 3,700 professionals is improving the lives of 16.7 million people in more than 40 countries. For more information, see mercycorps.org.