By Bob Gelbach, Executive Director, EMDR HAP
The devastating earthquake in Haiti has galvanized the efforts of humanitarian agencies, governments and millions of people around the world. Many HAP supporters have asked us how EMDR HAP will respond to this massive challenge.
We want you to know, first, that we will be engaged in the work of recovery, and second, that we will make every effort to move beyond disaster response to capacity building. You can support these efforts by donating to HAP’s Haiti Recovery Project. Every penny received will go directly to trauma treatment and training. And we will keep you informed as our project progresses.
Already many HAP volunteers with expertise in disaster response and clinical training have told us they are ready to go where they are needed. Their time and skill are not lacking, but the means to get them where they are needed and sustain them there depends on funding. (And of course, rescue efforts need time to do their critical work before most people on the scene can think about trauma therapy.)
To DONATE online, go to www.emdrhap.org and click “Donations,”
or follow this link. Under “Donation Information,” be sure to choose
“Please use my donation for Haiti Recovery Project.”
The partnership of donors and volunteers has always been at the core of HAP’s response – to floods in Bangladesh; to Katrina on the Gulf Coast; to past earthquakes in Marmara, Turkey, in Gujarat, India, in Mexico, Pakistan and Chengdu, China; to the tsunami that struck Indonesia, India, Thailand and Sri Lanka.
Mental health professionals know better than most that the psychological aftermath of the earthquake will last for years beyond the immediate physical effects. The depth of the traumatic stress now experienced in Haiti is not only a response to the destruction and devastation wrought by the quake, but is compounded by the heavy overlay of unresolved trauma history borne by so many of the people in that nation, one of the poorest in the world.
We read in the news and editorial comments of the past week that the world must resolve to help Haitians recover not only from the earthquake, but also from the social, economic and political despair that has gripped their nation for 200 years. In the EMDR community, we know that such a transformation will not occur without release from the grip of traumatic stress that saps the spirit and mental focus needed for progress.
That is why we aim to do what we can to support immediate recovery, but then go on to build capacity for trauma treatment where it has scarcely existed. HAP colleagues from Europe have already begun this building process in the past year in Haiti. Now is the time to help them expand their efforts, to link their work to the multitude of humanitarian agencies struggling to their feet this week in Port au Prince and beyond. Our aim is to see a self-sustaining community of Haitian EMDR therapists and educators in place as soon as possible. Please make it your aim as well. And thank you!