Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sails For Sustenance

Just in on the comments - here's an interesting not-for-profit that sends used sails to fishing villages in Haiti, Sails for Sustenance.

Shopping for a new suit of sails, and wondering what to do with your used sails? This seems like a good way to do some good with them.

I suspect that with the current crisis, cash donations to relief organizations like Doctors Without Borders would probably be more crucial, but this seems like a really nice idea for people of the sailor persuasion to keep in mind down the road - and this blog has been around long enough that it seems to do well in Google searches, so I'm posting this in hopes that down the road, people googling "Old sails", "Recycling old sails", "Getting rid of old sails", "Donating old sails" may stumble across this.

Thanks, Baydog!

(and here's a good video for a dreary day in January)


will said...

thanks, bonnie. who would imagine the origin of these sails . . . ?

Carol Anne said...

The thing about Haiti -- well, actually there are a couple of things ...

One, even before the earthquake, Haiti was a desperately poor country. It was plagued by obscenely high poverty and government that was despotic and corrupt. People who disagreed with the government had a habit of disappearing. And the government was also horribly inefficient.

Two, the magnitude of this disaster was far greater than any resources could cope with. There were Red Cross and UN disaster relief teams in place before the quake, ready to go into action in the event of a natural disaster. But the earthquake destroyed the buildings and killed most of the people in them. So rescue personnel had to be brought in from elsewhere.

There are disaster relief supplies sort of close to hand in El Salvador -- enough to sustain 30,000 people for 30 days. That's not going to be enough for 1.5 million people for 18 months -- the need as reported on the television news report that I saw.

The numbers are mind-boggling. How the hell do you get your brain around those figures?

And then there's the body count. Well, actually, there isn't a count. In the tropical heat, dead bodies can't be simply left lying around; they have to be disposed of. Sometimes, they're incinerated, and sometimes, they're loaded up into dump trucks and hauled out to be buried -- often in the same places where previous dictators disposed of political dissidents.

This makes the church mission stuff I did in Mexico look like small potatoes. The people I worked with were dealing with adequate housing and basic health care. In Haiti, the needs are a whole lot bigger.

bonnie said...

That's why I was saying giving money to the organizations that are working to get in & give direct help is probably better than giving "stuff" (sails or anything else) right now. It feels so terribly American to suggest throwing money at a crisis - but in cases like this, that actually seems to be the most effective response.

Here's a list of disaster relief do's & don'ts that my company posted in response to employee concern. The 3rd "Do" is where I thought that things like sailors remembering SFS down the road might be good:

Ways to Help (adapted from guidelines from the Council on Foundations):

Do: Remember that every disaster is different and the needs of an affected region will vary accordingly. Contact nonprofit organizations with proven track records of effectively managing disaster relief and recovery, such as the ones mentioned above.

Do: Donate money if you can. Immediately after catastrophic disasters, monetary donations are most beneficial. Money allows relief organizations to get the most appropriate resources for their vital work.

Do: Think about how you can help after the immediate crisis is over. It takes months, even years to recover from large-scale disasters. Appropriate aid that comes to support a community’s rebuilding effort is just as important.

Don’t: Immediately begin a collection of random items for the affected community. According to the Council on Fouundations, “inappropriate items can overwhelm limited transportation, storage and distribution capacities, delaying the delivery of aid that is desperately needed.” Instead, work with established groups to find out what items are most needed, and how they can be transported.

Anonymous said...

my brother has just volunteered to deploy with his unit at the Air National Guard (like Air Force Reserves) to Haiti for a 2 or 3 month trip to assist wherever possible. I don't have that option, but I think it's very noble of him to volunteer. sure beats any small donation I could have made.