T-Mobile waives call charges to and from Haiti

Robert Dotson, president and CEO, T-Mobile USA, said: ?Our company and our employees care deeply for our customers, and we know that many customers have been directly impacted by the disaster in Haiti.? Additionally, T-Mobile has taken steps to assist with the restoration of the wireless communications infrastructure in Haiti ? a key component in supporting the overall humanitarian and recovery efforts. T-Mobile has pledged its support to donate wireless equipment, such as generators and phones.

Response to the earthquake in Haiti is marking the emergence of texting as a major force in philanthropy, as Americans turn to their cell phones to donate millions of dollars to relief. The Red Cross raised more than $3 million through SMS donations as of Thursday morning. It raised $190,000 through SMS donations in all of 2009. The American Red Cross is taking $10 donations to its Haiti relief efforts from donors who text "HAITI" to "90999." Hip-hop star Wyclef Jean’s Yéle Haiti charity is asking donors to text ?YELE? to 501501 for a $5 donation toward earthquake relief efforts. The donations are added to your cell phone bill.

Gillian Yeoh is the lead program officer for disaster response at Give2Asia, a San Francisco-based public charity which was the second largest U.S. contributor (after the Red Cross) to relief and recovery after the 2008 China earthquake, raising $15.8 million.

Yeoh told CNN there are three phases of disaster response. Understanding these phases is important, because it can help you decide when and how you can assist.

Immediate relief: This phase often includes providing survivors with immediate needs such as medical assistance, food, clean water and shelter. Other necessities, such as heavy equipment to remove rubble in the search-and-rescue operations, are also needed.

Short-term recovery: This phase comes during the weeks and months after the immediate relief effort. It includes providing temporary housing, temporary schools, the initial rebuilding of infrastructure and services for displaced children and families, such as psychosocial services. During this time, most families and parents are busy cleaning up their damaged homes or retrieving their belongings while leaving their children at temporary shelters, which often exacerbates the trauma that children have experienced.

Long-term recovery: The long-term recovery period is measured in years. This includes livelihood restoration and training; educational support for disaster-affected students; permanent rebuilding of homes, schools and infrastructure; and psychosocial support.

Another charity with a long history of helping children is World Vision charity that has a donation site. BSN* suggests that our readers stick with the widely known charity organizations, because unscrupulous individuals can easily register a website and start collecting money. We all learned of this scam after the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami. A good place to check out before you send money to any organization is Charity Watch.

[Update: CNN reports now that texting has raised $4 million. Digicel reported that two of its employees who were not in the company building which had withstood the quake were killed elsewhere on the island. They also stated that their network is operational, but, understandably, congested.]