Saturday, January 23, 2010

Crisis De Jour

On January 11, 2010 Haiti was a small Caribbean island that many people could probably not put on a map, in the last twelve days it has moved the center of American foreign policy and the American conscience. As Americans always do, we came together in light of the latest natural disaster and opened our checkbooks, cell phones, and twitter accounts to donate money to our latest crisis de jour. The Red Cross too to twitter to update people across the world with where their money is going and how much has been received, their latest donation tweet posted on January 18 at 9:40 AM said

RT @mgive: Donation Update: Over $21 Million in $10 donations raised for the people of #Haiti through the @RedCross text HAITI to 90999 ...

Now that it is easier to give than ever, everybody wants to be involved in the donation frenzy to look like they are socially aware and not look left out. GW took to the pavement by inviting students, faculty, and staff to Swipe Your GWorld for Haiti” at specific locations on Friday January 22 as part of a donation campaign to raise funds for the Red Cross and Project Medicare. While GW probably had pure motives in offering students the opportunity to painlessly give of themselves, they also sent out press advisories about where and when President Knapp could be interviewed, information about GW’s efforts in Haiti, and a link to “Download high-resolution video of a lab demonstration of the structural integrity of buildings in earthquakes by Pedro Silva, GW professor of structural engineering”

GW even thought of the students (and faculty and staff) who carry a zero GWorld balance with information and links on how to load on money in order to donate it in GW’s Campaign. Almost as an afterthought GW placed links at the bottom of an InfoMail where individuals could donate directly to the Red Cross or Project Medicare.

Two student groups stand out in their efforts for Haiti Earthquake relief, the first is the Carriban Student Association, a group dedicated to promoting “social and cultural interaction amongst Caribbean students on campus and the entire GWU community at large.” Via facebook, their “Party for Haiti Fundraiser” provided links to donate, stay informed, watch live webcams of what was happening on the ground, and a phone number to call for those looking to locate friends and family.

A second group which took up Haitian relief as a fundraising program was Circle K , a GW chapter of a national organization dedicated to service. Members held a fundraiser at Foggy Bottom's Crepeaway from Friday January 22 into Saturday January 23 and raised over 300 dollars for disaster relief efforts. Both these groups provide evidence of GW students taking up the reins on their own, without the need to “Swipe Your GWorld for Haiti”

Today the world focuses their attention to Haiti, but the Times-Picayune on reports that “tens of thousands” are still displaced as a result of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.On the fifth anniversary of the Pacific Tsunami which killed over 200,000 people in 2004 the same region was recovering from another, smaller quake which destroyed tens of thousands of homes, and killed 57. This disaster comes while still trying to recover from the 2004 disaster. Donating to Haiti is a worthy use of funds, and the money is going to a good cause, but the GW community, and the American populace should be aware of more than the crisis de jour.

Follow Red Cross tweets here.

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