When I think of an organization that I am proud of, one that I stand behind, one that I literally take the burgundy life nectar out of my body and give to – I think of the Red Cross. However, this blog isn’t about how much I love the Red Cross, it’s about taking off the fittingly parabled rose-colored glasses and looking for the sins beneath the surface. It all started with Haiti…
A few years had passed since the decimation of the area known as Haiti, where approximately 316,000 people died due to a massive earthquake and left hundreds of thousands homeless. The Red Cross had received nearly $488 million in donations to rebuild the lives that were shattered there; however, when you compute the equation of “Renowned charity Organization + Millions of donated Dollars + Worthy Cause,“ you don’t always get “= Great Outcomes.“ After this ample restructuring time had passed, local Haitian volunteers began to voice their concerns and grievances. But why? They’re working with the Red Cross, they’re in good hands, right? Finally, a local Haitian man had gathered up all the information he could get on the status of the recovery project and contacted the independent nonprofit news organization called “ProPublica” and spilled the beans. The anonymous Haitian had showed that the Red Cross had, after all this time and money spent towards rebuilding the Haitian peoples’ lives, built only six permanent houses.
Thanks to this on-the-ground local reporter, ProPublica’s Justin Elliot was able to go to Haiti and dig deeper into the situation. Unfortunately, when Elliot requested to view the records of The Red Cross’s transactions and allocations of funds, they refused to disclose many of the documents needed to give them the answers he was looking for. Finally, the story gained momentum from being a local concern to an international inquiry as NPR partnered with ProPublica to broadcast the story, force representatives of the Red Cross to make appearances on CNN in defense of their misuse of funds and to publish statements to the media addressing the concerns.
Now, before we all get out our pitchforks, torches, and bloodbags to demand a refund of our beloved burgundy life nectar, The Red Cross has made recovery efforts in the wake of the Haiti tragedy with rubble removal, clean water deliveries, and temporary shelter stations for the misplaced survivors. However, these actions are ones that we would expect to take place right in the wake of a disaster and not in the long-term recovery phase of the Haiti incident. The fact that there are only 6 permanent homes built is a reasonable concern, especially since there are other nonprofit organizations there that have now reportedly built thousands of permanent homes with fractions of the budget Red Cross has. Are we being to hard on Red Cross? Are we as a society trying to micromanage a massive organization on how it should function? Will this affect society’s willingness to donate blood or funds? You decide.