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Humanists have reacted generously to the disaster in Haiti, contributing hundreds of thousands of dollars through a wide range of specifically Humanist charities. In response to the devastating earthquake and ongoing suffering in Haiti, the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) is partnering with a new disaster relief fund called ‘Non-Believers Giving Aid’. Humanists are invited to make humanitarian donations for Haiti through the new fund at: http://givingaid.richarddawkins.net

Humanist aid packages arrive in Haiti
Humanist Charity relief packages arrive in Haiti. Photo taken by Sebastien Velez.

Non-Believers Giving Aid was created by the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Science and Reason and will give all money collected to two secular organizations providing aid in Haiti: Doctors without Borders and the Red Cross (donors can choose how their gift is split). The new mechanism will remain open for future disaster relief work.

Many IHEU Member Organizations have joined Non-Believers Giving Aid, including the British Humanist Association and the Rationalist Association. Other IHEU MOs have set up their own fundraising efforts for Haiti or made direct donations. The Norwegian Humanist Association donated 100,000 Norwegian Krone (almost 20,000 US Dollars) to the Red Cross for Haiti aid. The Skeptics and Humanists Aid and Relief Effort (SHARE) – affiliated with the Council for Secular Humanism – is forwarding donations to Doctors without Borders in Haiti. As of January 22, SHARE’s Haiti relief drive was about to exceed $90,000.

Humanist Charities, an adjunct of the American Humanist Association, is working with a less prominent project to provide food, water, medical supplies and rescue tools to Haiti: Sebastian Velez, an evolutionary biologist at Harvard University and director of the Children of the Border project, is currently on the ground working to distribute supplies. Children of the Border was receiving support from Humanists in the US and Norway even before the earthquake hit Haiti. With help from Humanist Charities, Velez’s team of volunteers provided the first shipment of medicines and rescue tools to arrive in the city of Jacmel after it was destroyed by the earthquake. The group has been working tirelessly since then to provide aid to the region, including to an orphanage that had not received food for four days. As of January 22, 2010, Humanist Charities had raised more than $50,000.

In recent years, the Dutch Humanist group HIVOS (the Humanist Institute for Development Cooperation) has provided tens of millions of Euros to support development projects throughout Africa, Asia and the Americas. Today HIVOS is forwarding donations to its long-time partners working on the ground in Haiti. Go to Alliance 2015 for more information.

IHEU president Sonja Eggerickx explained the generous Humanist response to the Haiti disaster: “Humanists have joined the global outpouring of support for the victims of the devastating Haiti earthquake. Sometimes, Humanists have created their own charitable agencies to fill a need that is not being met by others, but more often Humanists prefer to do their charitable work with others of different beliefs, rather than setting up competing agencies just so that we can promote ‘the Humanist brand.’ And most of us make humanitarian donations without drawing attention to our Humanist beliefs.

“Now a new approach is growing,” said Eggerickx, “Humanist charities are appealling to specifically Humanist donors but then forward 100% of the donations to the best qualified mainstream charity. This raises the profile of Humanists and ensures the maximum support goes to the best and most inclusive aid organizations. I hope this generous and assertive approach will grow as our community of Humanists grows.”

–Matt Cherry

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