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]
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, YÃ©le, 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.)