My regular readers were probably expecting this months pick, with “Haiti this” and “Haiti that” (I promise I’ll start branching out again soon!), but yes, for this month’s Charity of the Month, I have decided to highlight a little bit about the organization that I went to Haiti with.

Who They Are:

HODR is a US based non profit which began unofficially in 2004, and was officially established in 2006 as a direct response to the need for help in devastated areas. Since then, HODR has helped disaster areas recover in Thailand, Indonesia, Haiti, many locations across the United States, and most recently Haiti, to name a few. I can personally speak to the amazingness of the people that you will find volunteering for this organization. I expected my experience to be rewarding because of the work we were doing, but I never expected to meet so many amazing people, all with one common purpose.

What They Do:

HODR basically gathers volunteers that are willing to do some hard physical labor for free, in areas that have been severally affected by natural disasters. They take volunteers, and through these volunteers are able to provide direct assistance to disaster afflicted areas. In Haiti, for example, the biggest projects are rubble removal: clearing large mounds of rubble off of slabs of land, so the owners of the land can move their tent onto their own land rather than on the street, and eventually start to rebuild their home. Aside from rubble removal, however, HODR is performing a huge variety of projects, including mapping out the water system for the town of Leogane, building temporary school shelters so children can return to classes (this includes making and painting the furniture that goes into these schools), helping setting up tents for displaced people, working on a research project which details how the mayor’s office functions and how it can function better, and most recently: trying to create a physical location where NGO’s can coordinate with each other.
(Completed rubble site at Boisonnier)

How you can get involved:

There are so many ways you can help. The most obvious way is by donating money to the organization. Your donation can go a long way. If I’m not mistaken, most of the funds going to the Haiti relief fund are going towards buying materials to build temporary school shelters for children. How great is it to know that your money is allowing children to move on with their lives, to keep being a child for just a little bit longer, to attain an education that will help them have a brighter future? Pretty great :)

Another way to donate is by attending Campout for the Cause II. Scott, one of the volunteers who was down in Haiti while I was there, is one of the organizers of this event, and it sounds pretty amazing. It’s a weekend of camping, listening to music, hanging out, and what you pay goes towards several organizations, including HODR. Check out more information here.

Finally, and my personal favorite, is by actually going to Haiti and volunteering your time. I know it sounds impossible to do, we all have responsibilities: bills to pay, mouths to feed, TPS reports to turn in, but believe me, it will be totally worth it to leave it all behind, even if just for ten days (although I would recommend at least two weeks!). I won’t lie to you and tell you it’s a five star hotel; the living conditions are difficult, but you come home to your bunk at the end of the day, and you’re happy with the work you’ve done. I haven’t had greater personal satisfaction than what I experienced while I was down there. Project Leogane was recently extended up until January, 2011, due to the need for help in the community, so you have plenty of time to get your affairs in order and put yourself to work!

(Loading up for work, and sunrise on the rooftop)