After an earthquake measuring 7.0 on the richter scale hit the Caribbean island republic on 12 January, aid workers fear that as many as 200,000 people may have perished, making it one of the most devastating natural disasters in history.
Because the country is one of the poorest in the western world, aid work has been hampered by a lack of existing infrastructure and resources, leaving the responsibility of saving lives and rebuilding the country largely in the hands of the international community.
International organizations and the governments of developed countries have responded by making financial funds available as well as sending in military and emergency professionals and supplies.
Likewise millions of dollars have also been pledged by the corporate world, with the cosmetics and personal care industry weighing in with generous offers to help restore and rebuild the devastated country.
Avon Cosmetics pledges $1 million
Avon Cosmetics was one of the first to respond, pledging $1m to support the relief efforts.
It said that the funds would be donated through the Avon Foundation for Women and would be distributed to both the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders, two organizations that have been involved in the relief operation from the start.
“I believe that it is our responsibility as a global corporate citizen to lend our support to the relief effort aiding the people of Haiti,” said Andrea Jung, Avon CEO.
The company said that it was also planning on launching other fund raising initiatives to help the disaster, including donations made from a percentage of certain product sales.
Procter pledges funds and clean water
Consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble said it had begun working with the relief operation within 24 hours of the earthquake hitting through a number of its humanitarian relief partners, including World Vision and Global Medic.
Likewise it will provide three million packets of a water purifying treatment it manufactures, together with a donation of $400,000 from its Safe Drinking Water Fund, as well as matching employee donations to a maximum of $250,000.
Nancy Mahon, director of the MAC Aids Fund - the charity set up by MAC Cosmetics to help promote AIDS awareness - confirmed that she was pledging $500,000 in funds to help out local organizations her charity already works with.
Adding to the country’s woes, outside of Africa, Haiti already has the highest HIV/Aids prevalance rate in the world and the MAC Aids Fund has been involved with a number of established projects in the country for some years now.
Mary Kay Cosmetics has also stated that it will donate $100,000 to the Red Cross, specifically for it to help aid the relief fund in the country.
In the next few days and weeks many other cosmetic and personal care companies are expected to announce similar initiatives in response to the disaster as the corporate world continues to lend its support to the people of Haiti.