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Aid Groups In Race Against 'Compassion Fatigue'

Tom Banse

Earthquake relief donations to Northwest–based charities working in Haiti have been brisk despite the bad economy. But those same agencies say they're in a race against what they call "compassion fatigue."


Dr. Tom Hoggard is volunteering in Port–au–Prince through Portland–based Medical Teams International. He says fatigue and stress caught up with him just now.

Hoggard: "When I was taking care of this girl recovering from anesthesia, I broke down and wept. I could not stay in the room for a bit."

Fatigue affects not only doctors, but also donors. Randy Strash manages disaster fundraising for the Christian relief organization World Vision in Federal Way, Washington. He says he can see why the general public may want to turn away after absorbing day after day of relentless suffering.

Strash: "We tend to raise in the first three to six weeks — that narrow compassion window — what we're going to need for the next three years."

Strash says World Vision has raised a remarkable $16 million for Haiti in the last week and a half. But now it's a race against time to meet the increased fundraising goal of $40 to $50 million.

Tom Banse, Northwest News Network.

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