Building destroyed by the earthquake in Jacmel, 25 miles from Lamontagne. Photo by Mike Goodman

The web of friends and family connected to Haitians stretches far around the world. In 2010, roughly a million Haitian nationals had migrated to other countries, while 2,000 nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) worked in Haiti. Time passed slowly while we waited, first, for word from those who lived there and, second, to know what we could do to help.

In Wisconsin, Mike Goodman, my partner, and I sat at home, tea cups in hand, intent on Brian Williams and his nightly news. We were unable to fully grasp the pain, terror, dust, death, fear, screams, sadness, gasps, anger, desperation and heartache those survivors in Port-au-Prince felt that first night.

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J.O. Haselhoef is the author of “Give & Take: Doing Our Damnedest NOT to be Another Charity in Haiti.” She co-founded "Yonn Ede Lot" (One Helping Another), a nonprofit that partnered with volunteer groups in La Montagne ("Lamontay"), Haiti from 2007-2013. She writes and lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.