How Can Outsiders Help Communities In Crisis?

Baptists from the U.S. charged with child kidnapping in Haiti say they went to the country to help people in need. Western organizations have long grappled how best to support populations in crisis. Marleine Bastien of Haitian Women of Miami, Father Ken Gavin of the Jesuit Refugee Service USA, and community development expert Steve Corbett discuss providing aid rather than paternalism.

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NEAL CONAN, host:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. Im Neal Conan, in Washington.

In a crisis like the earthquake in Haiti, what helps? What gets in the way? You probably heard the story of the Baptist missionaries who said they hoped to help dozens of children, only to find themselves under arrest and charged with abduction.

Some volunteers rushed to Port-au-Prince to help hundreds of thousands of people left homeless with no idea how to provide food, water and shelter for themselves.

When is it appropriate for outsiders to help, and when is that better left to locals? What's the goal? How long do you stay? When do cultural misunderstandings get in the way?

We're going to hear from some people who thought about these issues. We want to hear from those of you who've worked in NGOs and aid organizations, too. What do you think is the best way to help? Tell us your story.

Our phone number's 800-989-8255. Email is talk@npr.org. You can also join the conversation on our Web site. Thats at npr.org. Click on TALK OF THE NATION.

Later in the program, the life and legend of Willie Mays. But first, helping in a crisis. And we begin with Marleine Bastien, executive director of Haitian Women of Miami, Incorporated, an organization that works on immigration rights and to improve conditions in Haiti, especially for women. Marleine Bastien, nice to have you on TALK OF THE NATION today.

Ms.�MARLEINE BASTIEN (Executive Director, Haitian Women of Miami): Oh, thank you for having me, Neal.

CONAN: And first of all, condolences for losses. I know that people in your organization had family in Haiti who did not make it.

Ms.�BASTIEN: Yes, and thank you. And it's rare to find a Haitian who has not suffered a loss through this crisis.

CONAN: Tell us about what you've seen. I know you just got back from Haiti, and obviously, lots of organizations are trying to help there. What's working? What isn't?

Ms.�BASTIEN: When I was there, I visited 12 camps in Port-au-Prince and Leogane. I also went to Dufort and Montrouis, two villages outside of Leogane. And most of the people I spoke with told me that they were still waiting for the relief.

I believe that one of the main reasons for that is those organizations and the terrain that are there to help, they do not know what to do. I mean, when I got to the airport in Port-au-Prince, most of the aid was packed there. And I spoke to someone, you know, from Haiti recently, and he told me that the aid is still stacked there.

So based on my assessment there and some experiences I had while I was there distributing food in Belair, I do believe that the best way to go about this is to use grass-roots and community-based organizations that know the people, know their needs and know their way around the country.

CONAN: So international aid organizations, don't try to do it yourself, but enlist local help.

Ms.�BASTIEN: Yes. And this - I had a very positive experience in Belair, for example. There was people lined up to receive food, some of the food that we brought. And then a few children tried to get back in the line, and some of the leaders, the grass-roots leaders right there, you know, told them that you were already in the line.

So they know the people. They know who they are. They know their needs, and the best way to go about making such that those in need really get the help is to use those that are part of - involved and engaged in these communities.

CONAN: Do you encounter problems of Western aid organizations - that's principally who we're talking about - in Haiti, the United States and Europeans, that have, well, stereotypes of Haitians?

Ms.�BASTIEN: Well, the belief is that Haitians are not able to organize themselves, they are - they do not have the skills to manage. And I think it is a myth. I believe that, given the opportunities, Haitians rise up to the occasion like they did during this recent earthquake.

We saw on TV, we were mesmerized to see how Haitians rose up to the occasion and then dug people out of holes and crevices on their own. They decided on their own to pull people out of the rubble, people that they don't even know about. And I think that this earthquake demystified the belief that Haitians cannot do for themselves or cannot be trusted.

Oftentimes, when the aid goes to Haiti, the organizations brought their own talents, their own experts, and those on the terrain are not trained. And I, again, believe that the best way to do this is to use the people who are there. If they need training, train them so that when you go back to where you come from - be it the U.S. or Canada or France - then the talents and the expertise stays there. Because giving -bringing people food all the time is not the solution. You need to teach people how to fish, and then they will eat for life.

So it's about development. It's about sustainability. It's about democracy, the respect of the will of the people. The people are Haiti's best resources. I mean, they are waiting, eager to work, to be put to work, and we've seen that over and over again out there.

CONAN: And with...

Ms.�BASTIEN: So we need to do it. We need to use this resource to get out - Haiti out of the condition that it's in right now.

CONAN: And with respect, part of the reason people have those beliefs that the people of Haiti can't be trusted and are unable to do for themselves is the evidence of the Haitian government, which has been widely regarded as both incompetent and corrupt.

Ms.�BASTIEN: Well, some of the members are corrupted. But then again, over the years, what have we done? We are saying that the Haitian government is corrupt, yet we gave money. We gave millions of dollars to NGOs, nongovernmental organizations, on the terrain, that are also corrupt.

So I believe that it's best to help strengthen the institutions inside of the country, and then give them a chance to prove themselves. We have not given them a chance to prove themselves, so - plus Haiti has had so many intrusions over the years. I mean, no country and no government can thrive under constant interference and intrusion from foreign powers. None.

CONAN: Marleine Bastien, thank you very much for your time today, and we wish you the best of luck.

Ms.�BASTIEN: Thank you for having me, Neal.

CONAN: Marleine Bastien, executive director of Haitian Women of Miami, with us on the phone. She's just back from Haiti, in Miami. 800-989-8255. Email us: talk@npr.org. We want to hear from those of you who've worked in relief organizations, or NGOs. What's the best way to help?

We have a caller, Nick, Nick with us from Riverside, California.

NICK (Caller): Hi. Thanks for taking my call. That last guest, she was right on with a lot of the stuff she was saying.

CONAN: And you have experience where?

NICK: Yes. I worked in Thailand for three months after the tsunami, and I also went to Mississippi for 11 months after Katrina, and in Pisco, Peru, for seven months after the earthquake.

CONAN: And in those situations, finding local people, local organizations to empower, if you will, in other words give them a lot of money and a lot of resources?

NICK: Absolutely. There's a lot of opportunities for people to come and volunteer. I worked with Catholic Charities, Hands On Disaster Response, HODR.org, and the Burners Without Borders. And each of those organizations, they did a lot of really good work using people's labor to, like, clear out spaces and build new buildings. But the most important stuff they did was actually empowering the locals and helping them coordinate the effort themselves at the local level.

CONAN: All right, Nick, thanks very much for the call. Appreciate it.

NICK: Thank you.

CONAN: Bye-bye. And joining us here in Studio 3A is Father Ken Gavin, national director of Jesuit Refugee Service USA, also just back from Haiti last week. Father Gavin, thanks very much for taking the time to be with us today.

Father KEN GAVIN (National Director, Jesuit Refugee Service USA): Good to be with you, Neal.

CONAN: And I wonder what you would say to the advice of Marleine Bastien.

Father GAVIN: I think I would say that Marleine is really right on. In many ways, as you go to Haiti, of course, when you - the experience is overwhelming. And it seems like there's a disintegration of almost every structure of the society, whether it be the church or politics, whether it be education or even the social fabric of homes or neighborhoods. And clearly, the help of the international community is absolutely indispensible.

But I think she's very right in saying that that help has to, as much as possible, come through and siphon through the channels of the Haitian people themselves.

CONAN: And through the Haitian people themselves - now, obviously, there are situations where you're setting up field hospitals and that sort of thing, and those require specialists. And that's not what we're talking about.

Father GAVIN: Absolutely. For example, our own team from Jesuit Refugee Service, a team of American doctors from the Milwaukee-Chicago-Detroit area, went down there two days after the earthquake itself and really worked in the immediate wreckage and in the immediate chaos of the situation, and that's absolutely important. That's absolutely important.

CONAN: But then how do you make the transition between providing that kind of emergency care - and I'm sure your doctors ran into the same situation as other doctors we've talked to who went to Haiti, saying a lot of the problems we dealt with were people who were - had - you'll excuse the expression - preexisting conditions. Their health was a mess before the earthquake began. How do you then transition from this emergency kind of care to developing a health care system that can deal with these problems over the long term?

Father GAVIN: Sure. And that's going to be a generational issue, I think. We're not going to see a resolution to the health care needs of the Haitian people - as ordinary or extraordinary as they are - within the next generation, or perhaps the next two generations.

But even now, after the immediate emergency stage is beginning to begin to come to an end, I think what we're seeing is basically people with a great deal of upper respiratory problems, vaginal infections, people who have, you know, some very basic but real issues such as diarrhea, which are going to be an important issue in the coming weeks for the health of many, many of the Haitian people.

CONAN: We're talking about the best way to help - not just in Haiti, but in other kinds of situations. Give us a call if you've worked in an NGO or an aid organization: 800-989-8255. Tell us what your experience suggests. Greg is on the line from Boise.

GREG (Caller): Yes. I worked for the Red Cross in Hurricane Katrina, and the biggest thing we focused on was to make sure we didn't create a dependency in the local communities, because they were pretty small. And you want to get people back up on their feet, but you don't want them to start relying on this check and not doing anything else.

CONAN: And how do you make that transition? That's pretty difficult.

GREG: Well, basically, they had a set time limit. They would only go in for a couple of weeks to a month, just long enough so that people can, you know, start getting into trailer homes, you know, and they wouldn't wait a lot longer than that. And whether they were completely beyond it or not, basically they had a set time limit so that you couldn't have abuses from either side of the system.

Even if it wasn't intentional, you'd have people all worried about, you know, how these people are doing and then staying too long, and then there's just this point at which everybody involved just starts to get attached to this situation and can't move on.

CONAN: It becomes a permanent structure, not the emergency situation you were there to deal with.

GREG: Right, right. And I had to...

CONAN: And Greg, was it clear from the beginning, this is going to stop after X number of days or weeks?

GREG: Well, right, exactly. And, yeah, from the get-go, you plan on that, because one of the jobs I had to do was actually start recovering some of the computer hardware that we'd sent out into the field because it was, actually, starting to get absorbed by various entities and not getting returned, you know.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: Greg, thanks very much for the phone call. Appreciate it. You can understand those difficulties, even in a country where large numbers of cultural concerns and language difficulties were not evident. Well, that is evident in Haiti.

We're talking about what's the best way to help, working with local organizations. When do you stop? How long are you there? How do you make the transition? Give us a call: 800-989-8255. I'm Neal Conan. Stay with us. It's the TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

(Soundbite of music)

CONAN: This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan, in Washington. It is the best of human instincts: When catastrophe strikes - an earthquake in Haiti, for instance - go rush, help. Sometimes, though, that help can go awry in any number of ways: It's pushy or paternalistic or thoughtless or unprepared. So what is the best way to help? Our guest is Father Ken Gavin, national director of the Jesuit Refugee Service USA. If you've worked for an NGO or an aid organization, what do you think is the best way to give support?

Our phone number is 800-989-8255. Email us: talk@npr.org. You can also get in touch with us through our Web site. Go to npr.org. Click on TALK OF THE NATION.

And Father Ken, I just wanted to ask you, I know there's a philosophy of this that the Jesuits have worked on called accompaniment. What does that mean?

Father GAVIN: Mm-hmm. Frequently enough, when we talk about our work in Jesuit Refugee Service, we say that what we do is accompany, serve and advocate or defend the rights of refugees or forcibly displaced people. And that term, accompaniment, as you say, Neal, is incredibly important, because I see it as the envelope out of which all our service and all our advocacy - however important they are - flow from that sense of accompaniment.

And what we mean by that, I think simply, is to be close to the people, to be in solidarity with them, to step into their shoes, to experience their hopes and losses. Our sense of accompaniment comes from that spark of the divine that we recognize in every human person. It comes from our believing that even in the greatest tragedies like Haiti, that our God stands present with people in their suffering.

So that accompaniment is kind of the very source of what we are. To give you an example, years ago in Haiti, after the tsunami, I was in a little coastal town called Chrumriya(ph), which was rubble, basically, aside from a mosque that had just been rebuilt.

CONAN: Not in Haiti, but in...

Father GAVIN: I'm sorry, this was in Indonesia, in Aceh in Indonesia. Yes. And the people said to us, you know, JRS is different than other NGOs. And I said, oh, is that so? Why is that? And they said, well, because a lot of other NGOs come, and they take - with their clipboards, and they do their analysis and they leave in their SUVs, and you never see them again. And I said, so what makes us different? And they said, well, you stay with us.

And I looked puzzled. And then they pointed to a little green REI tent, a little pup tent in the midst of the rubble. And they said, and that's where you stay when you come with us.

CONAN: So with them, in other words.

Father GAVIN: Yes, exactly.

CONAN: Though some people are uncomfortable at the role of religious organizations. Do you proselytize in these situations?

Father GAVIN: We, ourselves, do not. Of course, we fundamentally see that as a basically as a violation of the deepest of human rights, and especially in a situation where people are so traumatically involved, such as Haiti. It seems to us absolutely unfair and unjust to proselytize.

CONAN: Well, let's get another guest in on the program. Joining us now from his home in Chattanooga is Steve Corbett. He teaches community development at Covenant College, and he's the author of "When Helping Hurts: How to Alienate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor and Yourself" "How to Alleviate" excuse me, not alienate "Poverty Without Hurting the Poor and Yourself." Professor Corbett, nice to have you on the program today.

Mr.�STEVE CORBETT (Author, "When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor and Yourself"): Yeah, we don't want to alienate the poor.

CONAN: I didn't think that was the goal. I apologize for the misreading there. And when does helping hurt?

Mr.�CORBETT: Some of your guests have already gotten to it, but I think we've got to back up a step and just ask what is poverty? And in the Western world, we've had this mentality that poverty is basically deficit, it's a lack of. So it's particularly a lack of financial and material resources.

And so when we have that mentality, well, you don't have, and we have. Well, the solution's easy: I provide. So we have this provider-receiver relationship.

Well, is there a material deficit? Of course there is. In a case like Haiti, in a relief context, that's pronounced. But people have a long-time talked about the issue of poverty of being.

The World Bank did a study on something called voices of the poor, and asked poor people around the world what's poverty to them. And you heard them talk a lot more about the issue of shame, the feeling of I'm not worthy enough, I'm not capable enough, sometimes even people thinking they didn't even deserve a better life.

And so we have this sense of I, you know, I can't do it myself. Others have got to do it for me. And then you come from the outside, and you just provide and almost say, well, yeah, we're here to help you, and -or maybe we're here to fix you. You may get physical manifestations better. You may get the clean water in. You may get the house built, but the people feel ever poorer than ever.

Their dignity has been robbed even deeper, as Father Gavin was just talking about. I mean, that's really, really a crucial thing. And as Marleine was talking about, this whole issue of starting with where people are and giving them the opportunities to help solve their own problems.

You know, there's a whole approach called asset-based community development that's been out there for 20 years now and says starting with the problems and the needs and what people don't have, you say hey, we have problems, but what do you have that you can bring to the table?

And Father Gavin mentioned the term accompaniment. We talk a lot about the concept about walking with the poor versus doing for the poor.

CONAN: Does that not risk - if you rely on local people and local organizations - that some of your efforts are going to go astray?

Mr.�CORBETT: Well, I think - part of this is - I think there's a great power in basically multicultural and multinational teams. I worked for almost 20 years with an international relief and development organization called Food for the Hungry, and, you know, 90 percent of our staff were nationals working in their own context. But they were always part of having ex-pats, you know, as a part of the team.

And I think sometimes that you know, as Marleine said, you need to localize, the local understanding, the local customs, the local styles, local leadership structures. But having external eyes is part of that. I think it's a really important part to help maintain good governance and to maintain, you know, proper use of resources.

CONAN: Accountability, if you will.

Mr.�CORBETT: Absolutely.

CONAN: Let's get some more callers in on the conversation. Suzanne is joining us from Minneapolis.

SUZANNE (Caller): Hi, how are you?

CONAN: I'm well. Thanks.

SUZANNE: Good. You know, just I think the guests are right on, all the ones that you've had. I'm a physician and psychiatrist and have, and did some consultation with USAID during the Bosnian-Serbian-Croatian war back in the '90s.

And one of the things that I thought was really useful about some of the recommendations and some of the approach that we did was not only to go in and assess the situation in terms of - particularly post-traumatic stress disorder and that sort of thing, with a lot of the women being raped and people being put into camps - but was to look at the Bosnian professionals themselves who would be treating their, you know, fellow citizens, and to part of what we recommended was to actually take these professionals and the Bosnian citizens and give them respite, so that, over the course of a few years, two or three years after the act of war was over, we could bring teams of Bosnian health care workers to the United States, give them two weeks of training and basically a break.

And I think that most of the people we worked with were very grateful for that, to just even get a chance for their own health and well-being, as well.

CONAN: And as we go ahead in Haiti, Suzanne, those psychological issues are going to be, well, I think there was a story in the paper this morning about how after weeks of dealing with an emergency, finally, the grief is getting out.

SUZANNE: Oh, yeah. No, I mean, it's you know, any of us who I work in public mental health and have done a lot of work in post-traumatic stress disorder issues, and it always is once everybody has a roof over their head and some food in their stomach, that's when you just kind of collapse into grieving and then sometimes worse, into things like depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Sure, I mean, the situation in Haiti is unimaginably difficult for these people and it's not going to go away, both emotionally, and as well as physically for a long time.

CONAN: Suzanne, thanks very much for your call. And Steve Corbett, I heard you murmuring in agreement there.

Mr.�CORBETT: Yeah, I was in Mexico City in 1985. I was actually working in rural Mexico. And then when the earthquake hit there in Mexico City in '85, I was sent there and ran the relief operations. And just the reality of grief and giving people space to grieve is really, really important, and - just to understand the reality of that.

But, you know, part of what we discovered there, as well as I did some consulting for work in Banda Aceh, after the tsunami, is that one way to overcome grief and some space(ph) is actually is to be doing things that you see as being productive.

You know, a really common thing you do after a crisis, and especially a natural disaster of these scales, is start things like cash-for-work programs, which the U.N. has already started in Haiti, where you're paying people some wages to go out and do something, and in the case of Port-au-Prince, it's cleaning up, those kinds of things.

And so they're productive. And Banda Aceh was going and cleaning out mud from all of these government offices and the banking system and the businesses so they could get back on their feet. And I was doing some consulting with others about - with the Chalmers Center for Economic Development at Covenant, we were working with some NGOs to just how to get the businesses restarted. And so much of it was not here's a bunch of things. We'll call - we'll do it for you. Here's a bunch of money for free. It's here's some cash to work. You can participate in that. And here's a grant to get your business restarted.

To get the next grant, you had to get some business training that we would you know, to help you do your business a little bit better, but getting connected back with the local loaning institution, the MFIs in the area, getting savings groups restarted.

You know, interesting story, within a few days after the earthquake in Haiti, some savings groups - which is a very common mechanism in the majority world of kind of group-based coming together to bring your savings together so somebody has a lump sum of money to do something with - already were cranked up and going.

I mean, they're using their social networks in very positive ways. So you want to come alongside that. And sometimes our outside aid and this is going to sound counterintuitive we sometimes bring it - now -too early, and in too great of quantities.

Now, in relief, you can't be too early. When you start moving down to rehab and into development, the longer-term changes, and potentially in Haiti, we've got to be really careful about overwhelming so much with outside aid that we actually hurt local initiatives.

CONAN: I wanted to go back, though, to that psychological point and ask Father Gavin to weigh in here.

Father GAVIN: My sense is that the grief in Haiti is not only enormous for the Haitian people, but the grief is enormous for all sides. A Jesuit brother, Brother Jim Boynton, has been down there the last few weeks working with a U.S. medical team. And I talked to him by phone a couple of weeks ago and I said to him, you know, there must be times when you just want to cry half the day.

CONAN: Mm-hmm.

Father GAVIN: And he said, you know, that's true. And he said, you know, one afternoon, I was just - I moved aside from the trauma of this medical unit and was standing there with - wiping the tears from my eyes and a Haitian man my own age, about 40 or so, came up to me and he said, I really - I'm deeply moved by the fact that you, a North American, could be weeping for my people. And Jim said to him through his tears, he said - and in his poor Creole said, you know, in my language, we have a word for what you just went through and we don't call it a Haiti quake, we call it an earthquake, because it is a grief that touches all our hearts.

CONAN: Let's get another caller in. This is Anita(ph). Anita calling us from Cape May, New Jersey.

ANITA (Caller): Yes, hello. My point touches on what Father was just saying. I was a nurse volunteer in Haiti in 1985 and the conditions that I saw - I was in the northwest part of the country and spent a lot of time in Port-au-Prince - it was just heartbreaking and difficult physically and mentally and psychologically and emotionally to deal with the situation then. And I had experienced as an E.R. nurse in this sort of thing.

Now, the human suffering is so much greater. And my point in calling is I think anyone that contemplates, I'm going to go to Haiti and help, and I have this skill or I have that skill, they really need to think or be screened carefully by whichever organization accepts them that they can really handle what they're going to see and how they're going to feel personally, because it is wrenching to see some of the things that go on in Haiti on a normal - so-called normal day-to-day basis.

Now, you have an earthquake with devastating human tragedy and injuries that - you know, if the person going there to help falls apart and can't handle that, they do become a burden to whoever they're supposed to be working with, and that was your opening...

CONAN: Sure.

ANITA: ...statement today that, you know, how can you help and not get in the way. And from my experience being a volunteer in several different countries, there are definitely people that get in the way and you don't want to be tied up taking care of them when you have a job to do. So I think people just need to really be screened very carefully and certainly shouldn't just take off on a plane and go down there and not know what they're getting into. Because I think there's a lot of adventure-seekers out there that mean well, but they're really in over their heads in a situation like what's going on now. Thank you.

CONAN: Anita, thanks very much for the call.

We're talking about when does it actually help. Our guests are Father Ken Gavin, national director of Jesuit Refugee Service and Steve Corbett, professor of community development at the Chalmers Center for Academic Development at Covenant College and author of "When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor and Yourself." You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

And let's go to Ralph(ph). Ralph with us from San Antonio.

RALPH (Caller): Hey, how are you doing, Neal?

CONAN: Good.

RALPH: First of all, I've got a lot of experience with this from when I was in the military and going from civil affairs and also to Medical Service Corps officer, so dealing with the medical logistics with it.

There are three variables that need to be considered here. The first one is economic. Business thinking does not work in the social sectors. And there's always inflation that follows any type of tragedy like this. We saw it in Kosovo. We saw it in Iraq. We saw it in - after the tsunami hit.

CONAN: Because of the injection of outside money.

RALPH: Yeah. Because there's all this - a lot of people come with the good intention, but we have business thinking - let's say, for example, you can effectively do 10 projects at $10,000. And if I'm an NGO, a non-governmental organization, and I spend $100,000, I go back and I tell my boss, yeah, I've spent all this money with this micro-financing and I've got 10 projects at $10,000, and that's effective, but it's not necessarily efficient, because what happens is there are environmental problems. A good example is like the cutting of the mangrove trees following the tsunami in 2004. So, if you have fishermen and, all of a sudden, they go to cut down trees, in the mangrove trees, now they're causing more environmental vulnerability...

CONAN: Why would they cut them? For wood to build boats?

RALPH: Well, they cut down the trees - let's say, for example, like an organization, you know, NGO comes in and says, hey, we need a shelter for our people.

CONAN: Oh, I see. So, for wood to build shelters.

RALPH: Yeah. So what they'll do - there's a depletion of the natural resources, because a lot of times, people come in with pockets full of money instead of in-kind resources.

CONAN: Yeah.

RALPH: And that causes environmental problems. And this is the third one - is the social factors. Coming in with a comprehensive life-size framework saying, okay, at this phase of the operations, we're in response mode. At this phase of the operations, we need to transition towards recovery mode. It's the best way to handle emergency management. And while you're doing that transition from response to recovery, think about mitigation. And mitigation in the terms of not, you know, reducing CO2 emissions, which is...

CONAN: Right.

RALPH: ...global warming mitigation. I'm talking about mitigation with emergency management, about, okay, what type of structures need to be built. When the next...

CONAN: Next phase.

RALPH: ...disaster occurs.

CONAN: Yeah. Okay. Ralph, thanks very much for your expertise. We appreciate it.

RALPH: Oh, and I also want to say - I mean, I'm also Catholic and I appreciate the works, you know, that the father and the other gentleman has done in everything. But I would - but my last recommendation is to look at Muhammad Yunus's book, "Creating A World Without Poverty." But instead of concentrating on marginalized women, one of the biggest things is not concentrating on marginalized young men. And they are the ones who need the jobs and the employment in the state (unintelligible) the most.

CONAN: All right, Ralph.

RALPH: Thank you.

CONAN: Thanks very much for your contribution. I wanted to end with this story, well, not from a disaster but a personal disaster. I am disabled and well-meaning volunteers brought me dinner after a long hospital stay, which I greatly appreciated. But eventually, I had to ask them to please stop bringing meals because cooking for myself was one of the few things I could still do and it gave me a sense of accomplishment. Unfortunately, even though I tried to be tactful, one person was insulted and just didn't understand why I no longer wanted their help. There's a time to help and a time to go. And it's a lesson - another thing we have to think about as we think about the ongoing efforts in Haiti.

Father Ken Gavin, thanks very much for your time today. Appreciate it.

Father GAVIN: You're very welcome, Neal.

CONAN: Father Gavin, national director of the Jesuit Refugee Service USA. He joined us here in Studio 3A. Steve Corbett, thank you very much for your time today.

Ms. CORBETT: All right. Thanks much for having me, Neal.

CONAN: And, again, Steve Corbett joined us by phone from Chattanooga. His book is "When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor." And again, we thank him for his time. Coming up, James Hirsch will join us to talk about his new biography of the great baseball player Willie Mays. Stay with us. I'm Neal Conan. It's TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

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