47. Volunteer After a Disaster

On our 2010 Life List: volunteer after a disaster.

Capt. Mark Poirier gives medical attention to a baby in Haiti.     Photo: Courtesy of The U.S. Army on Flickr.

But do your homework. Parachuting into a disaster zone like Haiti or New Orleans, with no specific skills or mission, will have less impact than texting $10 to the Red Cross. First, get some medical training beyond first aid and CPR (training.fema.gov). Then visit the World Volunteer Web (www.worldvolunteerweb.org), a UN-sponsored clearinghouse listing opportunities for boots-on-the-ground involvement. And then: Wait. Most regions hit hard by tragedy get plenty of aid in the first few months (Haiti right now) but desperately need help a few years removed from the tragedy (Sumatra or China's Sichuan province, for example).

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