Shah coordinates U.S. response to Haiti earthquake



While many of us are contributing what we can to help the victims of the devastating earthquake in  Haiti, one Indian-American doctor is playing a major role in the relief effort — and I don’t mean Dr. Sanjay Gupta, though he’s doing his usual fine job of surgery-porting.

WASHINGTON — A few weeks ago, Rajiv Shah was an obscure if well-regarded young bureaucrat laboring in the bowels of the Agriculture Department.
On Wednesday, six days after he was sworn in as the head of the U.S. Agency for International Development, Shah, 36, stood before the country on live television as the coordinator of the U.S. response to the Haiti earthquake, one of the worst natural disasters in this hemisphere in recent history.

“He’s really gone from obscurity to the front lines,” said Robert Perito, a Haiti expert at the U.S. Institute for Peace.

A medical doctor who also holds a degree in economics, Shah is the highest-ranking Indian American in any presidential administration, according to the Press Trust of India. Plucked from his perch leading agricultural department research programs, Shah was still finding his way around USAID’s headquarters in the Ronald Reagan Building when the earthquake struck. His agency, which is in charge of development and foreign aid, plays a lead role in international relief efforts. [Link]



The photos from Haiti are just heart-wrenching, reminding me of the Gujarat earthquake of 2001.

While the U.S. is donating at least $100 million and sending 10,000 troops, India is giving $5 million, and Bangladesh is sending medical teams with medicine, clothes and tea. A number of policemen from South Asian countries are serving as peacekeepers in Haiti and helping with the relief efforts. 

If you haven’t already, here are a few of the ways you can donate to the relief efforts:

1. Text “HAITI” to the number 90999 to donate $10 to the Red Cross. It will be added to your next cellphone bill. You can also donate online through the Red Cross website. Some readers recommend donating to Doctors with Borders and Partners in Health.

2. You can donate your Delta Air Lines SkyMiles to transport CARE aid workers to Haiti or give money for relief funds through its website.

3. Haitian-American rapper Wyclef Jean’s foundation to rebuild Haiti, Yéle, is also accepting text-message donations. Text “Yele” to 501501 to donate $5, which will be added to your next phone bill. (Before donating to Jean’s foundation, you may want to read this Smoking Gun report.)

18 thoughts on “Shah coordinates U.S. response to Haiti earthquake

  1. Thank you for posting. It’s wonderful to see individuals like Mr. Shah coordinating disaster relief efforts. Also, the text messaging campaigns have raised close to $9 million in less than 72 hrs, although much more assistance is needed.

  2. what the hell is up with pat robertson . still bitching about a bygone french defeat. wtf.
    to think this guy sends missionaries into india.. yuck

  3. I know people have already contributed but in future, you might want to consider both Doctors Without Borders and Partners in Health as alternatives to the Red Cross. Many of my friends who are Katrina survivors have very bad memories of the hatchet job the Red Cross did on “aid” to disaster survivors. In addition, a large percentage of your donation goes to overhead for the Red Cross. DWB and PiH are very very much less so.

  4. Echoing above commenter. Please compare the Red Cross, Doctors without Borders etc on CharityNavigator.

  5. FYI for canadians, the CIDA will match your donations to UNICEF for the relief.

    For every dollar donated by individual Canadians to UNICEF Canada, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) will contribute a dollar to UNICEF’s relief efforts that will benefit children affected by the recent earthquake.

    to add to melvin’s comment above, reports are coming in that the death toll could be as high as 200,000.

  6. reports are coming in that the death toll could be as high as 200,000.

    It’s very sad to see people getting buried in mass graves, without their relatives having a chance to identify them. Each of them is someone’s son or daughter or father or mother. But in this tragedy, they have ceased to be individuals. They are just numbers. Actually, not even numbers. I don’t think anyone is keeping count of the bodies that are being buried.

  7. Please compare the Red Cross, Doctors without Borders etc on CharityNavigator.

    OK, I did this, and admin. + fundraising expenses are over 12% for DWB, but less than 10% for the Red Cross–what am I missing?

  8. Is it just me, or does Mr. Shah look like a young Barack Obama?

    I noticed that too. They both look handsome, but more importantly they both have their hearts in the right place.

  9. 13 year old Indian “sadhvi” seems to be really excited about something….

    Old news, sucker. Haiti doesn’t care about white people.