Can You Help People Going to Haiti?

My friend (and Christian author) Anne Jackson is going to Haiti in November. It’s her second trip there — she was compelled to go back after she saw firsthand the post-earthquake devastation.

She’s going with a group called To Write Love on Her Arms. While it may be a group of Christians going on the trip, they’re not there to proselytize or build churches or “save” everyone in sight.

They’re there to help. For real.

We’ll be helping by working on water projects. We will be serving in orphanages. Teaching children and parents about hygiene. We have a medical person on our team, so we she may be helping out medically. We’ll be serving in whatever capacity we’re asked.

I think that’s wonderful.

Unfortunately, they’ve only been able to raise a couple hundred dollars.

For mostly pure (and maybe slightly evil) reasons, I would love it if some atheists could pitch in… and perhaps out-donate the Christians. Let’s show them all up and make them feel so bad, they’re compelled to give more.

(Oh, yes, and the money would be going to an important cause. That is also a good thing.)

I gave $20. You can, too. If you PayPal it, leave a message that you’re an atheist who’s glad to help out.

And if any part of that makes you uncomfortable (and I don’t know why it would), Sebastián Vélez has been working with Humanist Charities (run by the American Humanist Association) to do similar things.

Consider donating to that group as well. I had a chance to hear Sebastián’s story at the AHA conference over the summer and his team is really doing amazing work there. Go hear his story if you haven’t already.

***Update***: Anne has responded to this post on her own site.

  • Gordon

    TWLOHA is like AA, it tells people only Jebus can heal them

  • Reginald Selkirk

    She’s going with a group called To Write Love on Her Arms. While it may be a group of Christians…

    Writing on people’s arms? Doesn’t sound Christian to me.

    Leviticus 19:28 “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.”

  • Guy G

    TWLOHA is like AA, it tells people only Jebus can heal them

    That’s not what the AA told me! They just fixed my car and went on their way with a smile and a wave.

  • http://flowerdust.net Anne Jackson

    Thanks for the support, for anyone who is donating. And I’d look a little more deeply into what TWLOHA does as far as the “Jesus” and “healing” part.

    :)

  • http://deviatehulk.blogspot.com Keith

    That’s not what the AA told me! They just fixed my car and went on their way with a smile and a wave.

    This reminded me of the Astro-Afro-Antarctico-Amer-Asian Auto Association from Futurama: “Hello, Septuple A?” And it made me smile.

  • Muffins

    I used to have a bad opinion TWLOHA since I remember I heard they were acquainted with some Christian “rehab” services of dubious morality, but thanks for reacquainting me with the site. With the exception of AA, all the resources seem purely secular and reliable, and the GLBTQA hotline linked was also a nice reassurance that nothing fishy was going on.

    Now if only the peers I know who reverently supported it weren’t also the ones who tormented me during highschool for being the “creepy quiet kid”. (I had some severe anxiety, phobias, and depression. Fun fun fun…) Oh those emo-hipster-indie-whatever kids and their ironic trends.

  • Ibis

    Sorry, there are a lot of groups doing good work in Haiti that don’t have another agenda to “spread the gospel” or “make a difference…in the name of Jesus” or “glorify the name of God” (all quotations from the comments on Anne’s blog).

    I’ll certainly be happy if some people are given real help because of Anne’s group, but I’ll be sad at the same time because all that love and effort is tainted with promoting what is at root a collection of immoral doctrines that the poor and helpless could well do without.

    Anne? You don’t need the mythological and dogmatic baggage to do good works.

  • TychaBrahe

    What does an anti-suicide/anti-cutting organization have to do with the sort of aid Haiti needs? This seems a lot like sending Scientologists or chiropractors to Haiti. Or those people you pay $3000 so you can spend spring break digging a well in Africa. Vanity missions.

    If you want to donate to people serving in Haiti, I recommend Doctors Without Borders or Three Angels Children’s Relief. Yes, the latter is a religious organization. They are also providing REAL services. They run an orphanage, school, and medical clinic on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince. http://www.threeangelshaiti.org/

  • http://flowerdust.net Anne Jackson

    The TWLOHA connection has nothing to do with helping Haiti. We’re not going in talking about self harm or addiction. It’s simply the way we know each other. We all believe in hope and we are physically able to help care for others by building things, cleaning things, and helping with food and education.

    I was in Haiti in February and THEY NEED PEOPLE. The experts are tied up in a 5-10 mile radius outside the airport while the rest of PAP and surrounding areas are still neglected. I know basic first aid and was surprised how much having some antibacterial wipes, neosporin and gauze made a huge difference. Anybody can hand out bags of water or help distribute food. They just need people who want to help. And that’s why we’re going. Period.

    I understand we’re not going to agree on the faith side of this. That’s kind of obvious. But I do ask for respect for my beliefs and I’m sure Hemant would back me up by saying I completely respect whatever you choose to believe or not. ”

    We.
    Are.
    Going.
    To.
    Help.
    People.

    And Muffins, I’m sorry you had the experience you did. I am also a quiet weird girl (some people may think creepy) :) and hate that you were treated that way. I hope you also enjoy the perks that can come when you can really turn it on though and freak some people out…. :)

  • Vanessa

    I’d like to point out that TWLOHA is not a Christian group as you made it sound in your post.

  • Gordon

    I’d like to point out that TWLOHA is not a Christian group as you made it sound in your post.

    I think they might be

    You need to know that rescue is possible, that freedom is possible, that God is still in the business of redemption.

    It is unspoken and there are only a few of us, but we will be her church, the body of Christ coming alive to meet her needs, to write love on her arms.

    Even the official denial effectively admits they are christian, but dont want to be too public about it

    Q: Is TWLOHA a “Christian” organization?
    A: We feel that the story (and the rest of this project) speaks for itself. Identifying something such as a band, store, venue or project as “Christian” often alienates those outside of the church/Christian culture, and we don’t want to do that

  • Drew M.

    Anne,

    I have no doubt that you are a genuinely good person and I admire your desire to go and directly help those in need. I visited your blog and was quite prepared to donate until I read the following comment by Lex:

    That’s kind of funny. On the surface, the friendly atheists want to out-give the Christians to make a point. Underneath, God’s using them to spread the gospel in Haiti.

    I’m sorry, but I can not help enable someone into believing that my will is not my own. I still want to help in some way, so I will donate to Sebastián Vélez as Hemant suggested.

    I sincerely wish you the best of luck!

  • Ibis

    Anne wrote:

    But I do ask for respect for my beliefs and I’m sure Hemant would back me up by saying I completely respect whatever you choose to believe or not. ”

    I respect you as a human being. I respect the fact that you’re going to Haiti to help people. I respect your right to believe as you please. But I don’t respect what you believe (assuming you believe in Christianity’s core doctrines). I’ve studied Christianity (& when I say studied I mean at an advanced level–I have a Master’s), and I refuse to respect what I consider to be one of the most hateful mythologies ever concocted by human beings. Nor will I respect the exploitation of the vulnerability and suffering of others to recruit more people into believing in it. So if you’re going to provide water and medicine, all power to you, but if that comes with a gospel I can’t support you. If you have trouble with understanding that, think about the Taliban providing aid to flood victims in Pakistan. Yes, I’m glad that people are getting much needed supplies, but not so glad that it’s coming with strings attached & will likely be used as a recruitment tool.

  • http://flowerdust.net Anne Jackson

    To clarify for some, my beliefs on religion:

    Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…(James)

    to break the chains of injustice,
    get rid of exploitation in the workplace,
    free the oppressed,
    cancel debts.
    What I’m interested in seeing you do is:
    sharing your food with the hungry,
    inviting the homeless poor into your homes,
    putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad,
    being available to your own families. (Isaiah)

    …and God gets pissed at what you get pissed at. I’m sorry people have twisted many things that were intended for good into a system that can bring darkness….

    “Doom to you who legislate evil, who make laws that make victims— Laws that make misery for the poor,
    that rob my destitute people of dignity,
    Exploiting defenseless widows,
    taking advantage of homeless children.
    What will you have to say on Judgment Day,
    when Doomsday arrives out of the blue?
    Who will you get to help you?
    What good will your money do you?
    A sorry sight you’ll be then, huddled with the prisoners,
    or just some corpses stacked in the street.
    Even after all this, God is still angry,
    his fist still raised, ready to hit them again. (Isaiah)

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com Anna

    Yeah, sorry, but no. I agree with Ibis. Frankly, several of the comments at Anne’s blog are extremely troubling:

    Somebody may give their lives to Jesus and embrace Him as Lord because Hement helped fund your effort. I think God might get more glory if only atheists gave, but again it is a question of why we give and not what.

    I donated prior to this challenge, an amount that was uncomfortable for me, for the purpose of people being loved and served to Jesus. I’m praying you will have a trip full of blessings and miracles, and knees bowed, and tongues saying the name of Jesus. May the broken hearted suffering in Haiti be raised up and find comfort in the great I AM.

    That’s kind of funny. On the surface, the friendly atheists want to out-give the Christians to make a point. Underneath, God’s using them to spread the gospel in Haiti.

    I pray that your group raises the funds you need, and I pray that whatever happens with this – contest? – that God’s name is glorified because of it. Maybe something incredible will happen in the hearts of the givers.

    They appear to view everything in terms of their religion, and it certainly seems to be very much of a “conquest” mentality. I don’t want to encourage that. I find it quite disturbing, to say the least. I am all for helping the people in Haiti, but I will only donate to secular groups.

  • Anne Jackson

    True- I see the validity and conflict in giving when your beliefs don’t mesh with what some of the commenters say.

    I have a mainly faith based audience. What do you expect?

    The idea Hemant has is to support me – a person he actually knows and trusts my heart well enough to ask you – his readers – for support. Whether or not “religiously” you believe in the tenants of Christianity, historically Jesus was a good man who pissed off the “religious” by showing great acts of kindness and love. I hope to do the same. Acts of kindness and love.

    This isn’t a plea for your money….just help in someway. But to base your decision off secondary comments is an irrelevant way to choose. That isn’t the point.

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com Anna

    Anne, I’m sure you’re a good person, and I’m sure you want to help people, but I personally do not care to support religion, particularly when it’s clear that the mindset of many (most?) of the people involved is to bring about conversion, either of the Haitians or of the atheists giving to the effort. Even if this specific trip isn’t dedicated to conversion, it’s clear that that’s what most of your supporters are hoping for.

    I have a mainly faith based audience. What do you expect?

    Exactly that, which is why I don’t give money to evangelical organizations. I’m sure you’re all nice people, but I can’t support what you believe, and I’m afraid I simply don’t trust evangelicals (in general, not you specifically) to refrain from proselytizing or at least encouraging religious faith. I don’t support faith, and I don’t want to encourage it.

    If other atheists are comfortable with funding your effort, they can make that choice, but I’m not comfortable with what I read at your site, not just the comments, but in your own posts. I realize you’re an evangelical, so there’s no need to temper your blog on my account, but it’s a good example of why atheists would be reluctant to support your efforts. I have given to several organizations since the disaster in Haiti, but I prefer to keep my donations to secular groups only.


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