Where Did Haiti's Earthquake Aid Go?

Two years after an earthquake killed hundreds of thousands in Haiti, many people are asking what happened to the generous donations that Americans gave, writes Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page.

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Post-earthquake in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti (Getty Images)

In his column at the Chicago Tribune, Clarence Page asks a critical question that has reverberated across the nation since the 2010 Haiti earthquake: What has happened to the generous donations that Americans gave? Two years later, more than half a million Haitians are still sleeping outdoors.

... No one is charging corruption, at least not at the top of the aid organizations. But as aid agencies pumped out news releases touting their successes during the second anniversary of the quake, the charities also confronted a rising tide of skepticism.

For example, two-thirds of the displaced have left the camps, according to the American Red Cross, which says it has moved more than 100,000 people into transitional housing. It also says it has spent more than a quarter of a billion dollars in the past year. But it raised almost twice that much — $486 million — and has been criticized for not spending more of it.

It has also been criticized -- along with other non-governmental organizations, or "NGOs" -- for not disclosing more about how the money has been spent.

That question has been sparked by NPR and other media. But none brought as much of a backlash as "Haiti: Where Did the Money Go?" a documentary by independent filmmaker Michele Mitchell that has been airing on PBS stations across the country.

Produced by her New York-based company Film At 11, the film paints a very grim picture of how much obviously has not been done. In a camp of 5,000 people, for example, only six toilets are provided — and no one to clean them. In separate visits on the first and second anniversaries of the quake, Mitchell found the camp's conditions actually had gotten worse.

Read Clarence Page's entire column at the Chicago Tribune.

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