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kid reporter emma hall talks to teacher ashlie erie Teacher Ashlie Erie, whose sister is in Haiti working with an orphanage, talks to Kid Reporter Emma Hall in her kindergarten classroom in Grassland Elementary in Brentwood, Tennessee. (Photo courtesy Emma Hall)

Tennesseans Lend a Hand

Local charities sending people and aid to Haiti

By Emma Hall | January 19 , 2010

Ashlie Erie's sister moved to Haiti recently for a seven-month internship in an orphanage there. Days after she arrived, a massive earthquake tore the poverty-stricken nation apart.

"My sister is now in a safe location," said a relieved Erie, who teaches kindergarten at Grassland Elementary School in Brentwood, Tennessee. "Many of those affected were infants, and they all need formula. They went for several days without food or water, before they were able to get some help."

The earthquake has made a bad situation worse, said several Tennessee relief organization workers. Haiti is the poorest nation in the northern hemisphere. Its history is rife with trouble, both political and natural. A major hurricane hit the island in 2006.

"People are suffering because they don't have enough resources to survive," said Kallie Bienvenu from the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. "Right now it is important to help the people in Haiti because it is an international crisis."

International and local relief agencies are the most effective means to help, which means groups like the Red Cross and St. Matthew's Catholic Church in Franklin, Tennessee.

"Life in Haiti is very hard even without a disaster of this magnitude," says Ursula Heitz, a seven-year veteran of a medical team from St. Matthew's making regular trips to Haiti for assistance and support.

"My hope is that some good comes from this because of all the media attention it has caused," said Pam Orlando, a registered nurse who also is a part of the St. Matthew's team. "The media have informed the world about the desperate conditions in Haiti."

The American Red Cross was one of the first organizations to respond with major fundraising and help on the ground.

"We are doing everything we can to help," said Mitch Turner from the Tennessee chapter of the Red Cross. "We are trying to get the basic needs food, clothing, and shelter as soon as possible."

For information on how to contribute to the American Red Cross to help the people of Haiti, log onto the organization's website. The website for the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee also has information about how to help. And you can learn more about St. Matthew's at its website.

CRISIS IN HAITI

Check out the Kid Reporters' special report Crisis in Haiti for more information on the country and how to help.

NEWS FOR KIDS, BY KIDS


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