Tuesday, February 09, 2010 | 11:57 AM
Where Are The Black Rescue Workers In Haiti?
According to the Black Global Development Corps, African-American volunteer workers are not shown in media coverage during times of disasters, such as Haiti. When researching why Black people were not organizing to aid in these moments of crisis, the organization found when talking to business owners and people who wish to volunteer, that information on how to help was not accessible to the community. ESSENCE.com talks to Rosanita Ratcliff, developer of the Black Global Development Corps, about why Blacks are left out, why it is important to have proper training before heading to Haiti, and what we should do to get involved more. ESSENCE.com: Tell me about the Black Global Development Corps. ROSANITA RATCLIFF: The Black Global Development Corps was created in response to the disasters that occur here in the United States and abroad. We distribute information regarding affected areas, register businesses and individuals as members who are interested in volunteering their time, their resources and their knowledge in these situations. We also register those who wish to receive more information regarding contracting to help rebuild. We give information regarding the history and culture of affected areas. Basically, we do the research for people and businesses so that they can help. ESSENCE.com: The Black Global Development Corps discovered when talking to business owners and people who wish to volunteer, that education and information was missing in the Black community. Is this a problem? RATCLIFF: It is a problem in the Black community, but we have to remember one organization can not do it alone. We have to work together. We have to educate ourselves. At times, we are overlooked as viable volunteers due to the way we are portrayed in the media. When looking at Haiti, they keep saying only 50 percent are educated and then they show extreme poverty. When erroneous stereotypes exist, effective solutions don't occur. Many of the people who left Haiti are doctors, lawyers, engineers, business people, teachers and other professionals. ESSENCE.com: How does the process work to get Black Americans involved to help people Haiti? RATCLIFF: People come to us saying they wish to get involved and ask us how. We ask them their skills, their industries, their availability and other questions. Everyone is capable of doing something. We do our best to match people's skills to a need. For example, if a non-profit is searching for a person who can help build houses, we want to get that information to people who have carpentry or construction experience. ESSENCE.com: So if people want to start helping now, what should they do? RATCLIFF: Get trained and get educated about Haiti's history. Find an organization that is empathetic to the people and wants them to be independent. I am strongly against people traveling to Haiti without the proper training. There are Haitian-led non-profits that need assistance and some can be done from abroad. Also, the rainy season is about to come. The people will need shelter. Urge your congressperson to get them the materials they need. There are materials that non-profits on the ground also need. Help by getting them those needed materials. To learn more about The Black Global Development Corps, click here. Read More: