By Karina Cuevas
A large part of the Dominican Republic call center industry has stepped up in a wide variety of ways to help alleviate the terrible suffering in Haiti.
Many of the institutions began collecting monetary donations internally through their employees, while others have obtained in-kind goods to deliver in Haiti. “Right after the earthquake, a high sense of corporate responsibility kicked in,” said Kemil Carbuccia, Sales and Marketing Manager for Nearshore Call Center Services. We always try to contribute because there is a willingness to help the people in need.”
Nearshore Call Center Services has already made three trips to the devastated nation and is planning on a fourth one within the next two weeks. Employees have delivered medicine, food and clothing to various sectors in Haiti and despite their well intentioned efforts; it does not seem like enough.
“At the beginning it was traffic and logistics [that made it difficult to get to Haiti],” said Carbuccia. Everyone wants to help, but it’s hard to organize and try to get everyone what they need.”
A client company of Nearshore is providing space for storage and thanks to contacts in Haiti; the goods are being delivered from one community to another in a somewhat efficient manner despite the lack of security engulfing the country.
Nightime More Desperate
“We have a structured plan, but it’s hard especially after 5 pm,” said Carbuccia. Most of the city does not have electricity and you’re driving blind. It’s a desperate situation and you want to continue to help, but you also want to be safe.”
In their recent trips to Haiti, Nearshore has taken a truck and two SUV’s full of non-perishable goods and medicine. With a team of ten employees and a Haitian guide, they have somewhat successfully delivered the donations, but find that the lack of visible help from the international community is hurting relief efforts.
“We saw UN and US trucks and they were only driving around the city, no interaction at all, nothing like stopping and soldiers coming out of trucks. There’s no organized effort from these organizations,” said Carbuccia. When you got to the hospital, doctors from Brazil, Canada, and Japan had some sense of organization. The American Red Cross did help people, but when you see the news and see the amount of people providing help you don’t see them driving around, I can guarantee that 100 percent.”
On the other hand, Stream, one of the main call centers in DR has been providing help in a more indirect manner through the DR Civil Defense. Corporate headquarters have opened a US$5,000 account for employees to make donations. With it they have bought over 10,000 bottles of water, thousands cans of food and medication to be taken to Haiti. Current amount in the account is undisclosed.
“This is a non stop job and we are working with five organizations to make sure all the people are receiving our aid,” said Emma Castro, Site Administrator for Stream. This is globally and our director in HR had a meeting with managers and decided how things were going to get done.”
Stream is designing more ways to provide help to the neighboring Haiti and in the meantime does not neglect its domestic efforts in the DR with Extreme Balance, a community based initiative that helps out in different capacities various sectors of the country.
“We have different ways to help out community, children and seniors through Extreme Balance,” said Castro. This isn’t the first time we provide humanitarian help.”
Another provider, STI Customer Care, decided to collect food, water and clothing plus US$7,000 for the family of one Haitian employee who lost some relatives in the earthquake.
“One of two of our employees traveled to Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake, one of them went as a volunteer [we gave him a 30-day leave of absence since he’s will stay there until further notice],” said Mary Padilla, Call Center Manager for STI Customer Care. A Haitian national traveled with him to find out about her family in Port-au-Prince. She found her family alive on the Jimani border, but some distant relatives had died under the rubble.”
They have also participated in a blood donation drive organized by the American Red Cross for victims in Haiti.