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Children sing while they wait in line to wash their hands at Corail Cesselesse. (Deborah Baic/Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail)
Children sing while they wait in line to wash their hands at Corail Cesselesse. (Deborah Baic/Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail)

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How you can help in Haiti Add to ...

The Canadian government will put more than $93-million into new initiatives to improve education, agriculture and children's health in Haiti. International Cooperation Minister Bev Oda announced Canadian support for eight new initiatives, which will be funded out of the $400-million reconstruction fund that Ottawa committed last year.

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If you'd like to pitch in, here's how to help with maximum effect:

If you have money

Do your research. There's no shortage of organizations doing aid work in Haiti - about 12,000, according to Médecins sans frontières (Doctors Without Borders) director Marilyn McHarg - and that's a problem: A lack of co-ordination has been a huge obstacle to post-quake recovery. So ask lots of questions. Does the organization know the country? Is it registered as a charity? Are its projects legitimate and are its finances in order? And, crucially, how is it co-ordinating with other organizations on the ground? One of the lessons from the 2005 tsunami, says CARE Canada's Kieran Green, is that groups can waste precious aid money and leave victims at risk if they're stepping on each others' toes.

If you have time

While the impulse to help in a face-to-face way is laudable, look instead for organizations close to home that could use a hand: Larger groups usually post help-wanted ads online when they need assistance. Or, if you want to strike out on your own, organize a fundraiser, harass friends and colleagues for cash and give it to an experienced group on the ground.

If you have expertise

Groups such as MSF and Engineers Without Borders often need trained experts in the field - provided, Ms. McHarg says, you have the qualifications they need and can travel where they want to send you. But don't be surprised if you're politely turned down: Many organizations would much rather employ Haitians. The economy could use the boost and, let's face it, they probably know their way around the alleyways of Carrefour better than you do.

Follow on Twitter: @camrclark

 

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