“Our priority needs are satellite phones and cash.”

Dispatches from WOCCU’s Team in Haiti

January 15, 2010

WOCCU's team in Haiti, led by program chief of party Greta Greathouse, has continued its efforts to regroup in the wake of Tuesday's devastating earthquake. With all 16 HIFIVE team members safe, but an office that's in ruins, the effort has been difficult at best, according to Greathouse.

2010_1_15_Devastation rocks Haiti
With financial institutions shuttered by the earthquake, Haiti has become a cash-only society, making life inconvenient and dangerous for people on the street.

PÉTIONVILLE, Haiti - I have only a brief window of opportunity for Internet access and I am taking it. Right now, our priority needs are satellite phones and cash. Haiti will be a cash-only economy for some time due to the lack of communication, data security and other electronic issues.

Financial institutions are closed and will be for some time. I need to give cash to my employees to tide them over. They can't access anything in their accounts and need money to survive the next few days and to help their family members. Unfortunately, I only have about $30 in personal cash.

Today we will try to safely salvage as much as possible from the office, including the checkbooks. Our accounting office took a direct hit, and with collapsed walls and ceilings we may not be able to get in there. We need to have a place for the things that we salvage so that they are secure and we have access to them.

I have asked a colleague organization for use of their conference room as temporary office space so we can start working again. However, it is a small space and won't give us the room we need. We will have to search new space. Most houses on the road to our office were destroyed. We are lucky that our office didn't collapse. It is very heavily damaged, but standing. That's why everyone was able to get out unharmed.

To support WOCCU's relief efforts on behalf of Haiti's credit unions and their members, make payments via check, credit card or wire to:

Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions, Inc., 5710 Mineral Point Road, Madison, WI 53705, USA

Donations may be made online with a credit card at /give. For wire transfer information, contact: Valerie Breunig, Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions, 608-395-2055 or Please indicate that your donation is for the Haiti Disaster Relief Fund.

U.S. credit unions can also support WOCCU's relief efforts by donating through the National Credit Union Foundation's CUAid system at

World Council of Credit Unions is the global trade association and development agency for credit unions. World Council promotes the sustainable development of credit unions and other financial cooperatives around the world to empower people through access to high quality and affordable financial services. World Council advocates on behalf of the global credit union system before international organizations and works with national governments to improve legislation and regulation. Its technical assistance programs introduce new tools and technologies to strengthen credit unions' financial performance and increase their outreach.

World Council has implemented 300+ technical assistance programs in 89 countries. Worldwide, 68,882 credit unions in 109 countries serve 235 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at

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Organization: World Council of Credit Unions
Phone: (608) 395-2000