Actor John Travolta flew his private Boeing 707 out of Haiti today after dropping off six tons of food and medical supplies, some doctors and a group of Scientologist missionaries. Traffic at the airport in Port au Prince has been choked and many relief organizations complain that the waiting list to get their own supplies in is too long.
Does flying your own relief goods into a disaster zone work? Don't do it, says Saundra Schimmelpfennig, creator of the blog, Good Intentions Are Not Enough - An honest conversation about the impact of aid.
"I understand your motivation, you want to help in anyway that you can. But how much help can you actually give compared to the added burden of another body to feed and care for. After the tsunami I heard a lot about people wanting to go over and pick up rubble, tend children, drive trucks, or do whatever needs to be done. But there are thousands of local people there that can do that exact same thing, and they speak the language, understand the culture, and have a support system. The costs of having foreign volunteers are often greater than the benefits."
Here's a list NPR has compiled on groups working in Haiti.
There's also controversy over the arrival of the Scientologists, who say they are working to heal injured and ill Haitians with healing touch.