Frank and Antoinette were my neighbors in Washington DC while they were between Peace Corps assignments. We’ve been friends ever since.
Both Almaguers gave many good years to the Peace Corps, working in several Central American countries and at headquarters in DC. Antoinette was the Haiti desk officer. Later, Frank served as a senior official for USAID at a number of posts in Central and South America.
I visited the Almaguers in Panama while Frank was assistant director for USAID. We toured the countryside, and I remember an unusual housing project he was anxious to show me, where people could own their own land in what was once a shantytown on the edge of Panama City. Later, we all headed north for a weekend holiday, and visited a successful coffee coop perched high in the mountains near Costa Rica. These were typical of the economic development projects Frank oversaw for USAID, helping Panamanians help themselves.
In 2004, he served as US delegate to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. Today, Frank is assistant secretary for the Secretariat for Administration and Finance for the Organization of American States, an international organization that grew out of the former Pan American Union, and whose members are the 35 independent states of the Americas, including Haiti. (Note: The OAS is not a US government agency.)
Antoinette, a regular reader of this blog, asked me to post this letter her husband sent out today to friends and family. It describes another on-the-ground charity you might want to donate to, directly:
While we may get tired of all the solicitations that are going on around the world, every penny is badly needed.
The text-messaging tool has been a tremendous way to mobilize resources. However, those funds become available only when the donor pays his or her phone bill. That could be a month or two from now.
The urgency right now is for the basics in human survival: water, food, and sanitation. These things cannot wait!
I am strongly recommending that you contribute whatever you can to the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF), the development and disaster relief foundation affiliated with the OAS.
PADF, the natural disaster relief arm of the Organization of American States, has more than 150 people working in Haiti on economic development, disaster mitigation and protecting human rights. PADF is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization based in Washington, D.C.
I am making this recommendation not because PADFis linked to my employer, OAS. Rather, I know PADF's work and I have known its director, John Sanbrailo, for 30 years. I can vouch for the integrity and commitment of the entire PADF staff, as well as for John's competence and compassion. I just transferred $100,000 to PADF from the OAS accounts.
At this point, Exxon, FEDEX and Bank of America, among others, have made significant cash and in-kind contributions to PADF. For example, early this morning, a FEDEX plane landed in Port-au-Prince delivering water purification supplies and medicines.
Their Web site is http://www.panamericanrelief.org, or call a special toll-free number to make a donation: (877) 572-4484.
By all accounts, this may be the single biggest natural disaster to afflict the Western Hemisphere in a century. Every little bit helps. Pass this on to others.
Love to all,