Military Monitors Social Media to Deliver Aid in Haiti

Julie’s uncle (jazz band available for gigs) sent along this interesting story about social media, the military and delivering aid to Haiti. British Columbian Rebecca Larkin operates an orphanage called Heart to Heart Children’s Home in Grand Goave, Haiti. The orphanage is home to 110 children, and 450 children attend its school. Its buildings were badly damaged during last month’s earthquake. Here’s one of her photos of the damage:

Haiti Earthquake Damage

Rebecca and her team had been struggling along and working as hard as they could to rebuild and care for the children and the community. And then along came the US Marines. As Rebecca explains in this interview with the Marines, it turns out that the Marines had been monitoring social media channels to help deliver aid:

How does it feel to know that you were the first person to receive aid using a new system utilized by the Marines to focus on social media to gain information for the location and type of care needed?

I actually didn’t know that until now! I have always realized the importance of my blog in connecting North American with the reality of what is happening in Haiti and the opportunities to help but I never imagined my audience would be so large.

They discovered Rebecca’s blog posts, and sent in 25 strong-backed soldiers to help clean up the orphanage. Subsequently, the Navy also pitched up to help, and delivered a baby on board the USS Bataan.

Regardless of how you feel about the military or missionary work (Heart to Heart is a church-supported project), it’s a pretty fascinating example of getting aid via (this word feels charmingly outdated) the blogosphere.

If you were going to give money for Haitian relief, you’ve probably already done so. If not and you want to support this orphanage, you can do so here. It’s a pretty unofficial-looking PayPal account, but I can vouch for the work Rebecca and her team are doing.


  1. Most of the time I think it’s worth being aware of an organization’s agenda when it’s providing relief work, but in desperate situations like this one it’s best if we examine their actual accomplishments. There are many, from various militaries to missionary groups to NGOs to volunteer search-and-rescue teams, who are going well beyond the hall in helping Haiti rebuild after the earthquakes.

    Sure, there are some woo woo groups whose helpfulness is at least questionable, but in most cases I think now is a time to overlook most ideological differences in favour of getting things done.

    Alas, no doubt proselytizing and profiteering will come later, and Haitians and others will need to keep a keen eye out for it.

  2. Regardless of “who and how” at this point it has been a great relief to see Rebecca and her co-workers get some desperately needed help.

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