PETIONVILLE, Haiti (1/19/10)--The World Council of Credit Unions' team in Haiti, led by program chief of party Greta Greathouse, has continued its efforts to regroup in the wake of the Jan. 12 devastating earthquake.
With financial institutions shuttered by the Jan. 12 earthquake, Haiti has become a cash-only society, making life inconvenient and dangerous for people on the street, report the World Council of Credit Unions' project team leader there. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images and provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
With all 16 HIFIVE team members safe, but an office in ruins, the effort has been difficult at best, according to Greathouse. Friday she took a "brief window of opportunity for Internet access" to report on the status there. "Right now, our priority needs are satellite phones and cash. Haiti will be a cash-only economy for some time due to the lack of communication, data security and other electronic issues," Greathouse reported. "Financial institutions are closed and will be for some time. I need to give cash to my employees to tide them over. They can't access anything in their accounts and need money to survive the next few days and to help their family members. Unfortunately, I only have about $30 in personal cash," she said. "Today (Friday) we will try to safely salvage as much as possible from the office, including the checkbooks. Our accounting office took a direct hit, and with collapsed walls and ceilings, we may not be able to get in there. We need to have a place for the things that we salvage so that they are secure and we have access to them. "I have asked a colleague organization for use of their conference room as temporary office space so we can start working again. However, it is a small space and won't give us the room we need. We will have to search for new space. Most houses on the road to our office were destroyed. We are lucky that our office didn't collapse. It is very heavily damaged, but standing. That's why everyone was able to get out unharmed." Greathouse and her team will continue with dispatches to WOCCU as long as communications work. U.S. credit unions can support WOCCU's relief efforts by donating through the National Credit Union Foundation's CUAid system at www.CUAid.coop. Others can provide support to Haiti's credit unions, members, staff and volunteers by making payments via check, credit card or wire to:
Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions Inc.
5710 Mineral Point Road
Madison, WI 53705 USA
Donations may be made online with a credit card at www.woccu.org/give. For wire transfer information, contact Valerie Breunig at the foundation at 608-395-2055 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
. Contributions should indicate that the donation is for the Haiti Disaster Relief Fund.