Global disasters are never good, but this latest one seems particularly cruel—the epicenter of the quake being right next to a population center, in a country so poor that many of its structures are substandard and its medical system can't handle the normal flow of ordinary medical emergencies—and that's with its infrastructure intact and the power on. News of disaster of this magnitude can't help but cast a pall over the daily lives of every one of us, the world around. What can be done? Suck it up and pull together what you can in the way of a donation to do your tiny part, and hope for the best. Our thoughts and concern and prayers to those in Haiti, and those with loved ones there.
UPDATE: Here's a link to a page for donations to Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), an international independent medical humanitarian organization that is delivering emergency aid in Haiti. It's a secure page and there is a phone number as an alternative; MSF notes that there is "fraudulent activity" happening in the field of Haitian emergency relief.
...Which, I must say, totally boggles the mind. There are thousands of hurt and scared people slowly dying underneath the rubble of collapsed buildings, and other people are trying to send money to help them, and some thief is going to interpose himself into that process and steal that money? How does a human being spend money gotten in that way? That is truly, truly depraved.
In any event, MSF has worked in Haiti for years and is a reputable organization well positioned to help. I've made a donation on behalf of TOP readers from the website's working petty cash fund.
Another excellent choice for a donation is Partners In Health, the organization co-founded by Dr. Paul Farmer, whose work, mainly in Haiti, was the subject of Tracy Kidder's excellent 2003 book Mountains Beyond Mountains. PIH have set up an earthquake relief page here.
Featured Comment by Michel: "I would like to encourage everyone who makes a donation to a charity organisation to check with their employer's HR or philanthropy department to see if they will match their donation. Many employers do—it's usual for any 501(c)(3) registered organisation (in the U.S.)—but it is surprising how few people are aware. There's a website out there called matchinggifts.com that can help looking this up, but it is very slow today. Perhaps that's indicative of many people already searching the database."