When it comes to doing a bad job, I’m something of an expert.
Still, if you gave me half a billion dollars, I think I could accomplish something people would talk about with a smile on their heads.
The American Red Cross, however, after being given almost $500 million, managed to build just six houses in earthquake-ravaged Haiti, according to a damning report by non-profits NPR and ProPublica.
I’ve been unable to find a photo of the homes, but I assume they are quite nice.
As you may recall, Haiti, perhaps the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, was struck by disaster in 2010 and Americans, as they often do, opened their wallets to help.
The American Red Cross, which typically does not work in countries that are not America, took in more donations than any other charity on Earth.
Initially, Red Cross said it would build hundreds of homes and develop brand new communities.
Most of the homes turned out to be “transitional shelters” — what you might call a tent.
The Red Cross disputes the report, saying the humanitarian organization “helped build and operate eight hospitals and clinics” and “move more than 100,000 people out of make-shift tents into safe and improved housing” by providing temporary rent assistance.
But, the Red Cross will provide no documentation on exactly how donations were spent, other than to say what percent of the $488 million was spent in broad categories, such as 35 percent for housing or 10 percent for water and sanitation projects.
How much did each project cost? Red Cross won’t say.
So, to get an idea of how the fortune was employed, reporters looked at Red Cross emails and visited the troubled island nation and talked to residents and officials, who said, other than the 6 houses, there’s no lasting evidence of Red Cross’ efforts.
Island officials couldn’t help reporters figure out where donations went.
“Five hundred million dollars in Haiti is a lot of money,” said Jean-Max Bellerive, Haiti’s prime minister at the time of the earthquake. “I’m not a big mathematician, but I can make some additions. I know more or less the cost of things… it doesn’t add up for me.”
An internal email indicated some Red Cross projects failed.
Here’s how ProPublica wrote one up: “Instead of making concrete improvements to living conditions, the Red Cross has launched hand-washing education campaigns. The internal evaluation noted that these were “not effective when people had no access to water and no soap.”
Yes, you read that right. Red Cross tried to initiate a hand-washing campaign in an area where people did not have access to soap and clean water.
This is not the first time ProPublica has assailed the American Red Cross. Last year, after Hurricane Sandy hit the northeast U.S., ProPublica called the Red Cross’ efforts “a secret disaster.”
The new article parrots a now-familiar ProPublica theme — the Red Cross seems to care more about money and favorable press coverage than helping disaster victims.
More news I stumbled across today:
- Signs of the Apocalypse: Taco Bell to serve alcohol
- Disney workers laid off, asked to train cheaper foreign workers
- Scientists help rare turtle with ‘mangled penis’ reproduce
- Bear euthanized after eating Shih Tzu in U.S. park
- ‘Aroused’ rider removed from World Naked Bike Ride
- Teacher suspended for jamming students’ cellphones