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January 14th, 2010
04:19 PM ET

How to aim relief dollars where they're needed in Haiti

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/01/14/uscoast.guard.haiti.jpg caption="An injured American arrives at U.S. Naval hospital Guantanamo Bay, Cuba by U.S. Coast Guard helicopter on Wednesday."]

Gillian Yeoh
Special to CNN

On January 13, a 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit Haiti and devastated thousands of lives. The panic, the sorrow - and the desire to help - are all too familiar, given the many disasters that have occurred in recent years all over the world. But we can draw on lessons from each of these catastrophes as we plunge into the recovery phase.

My organization, Give2Asia, has served as a leader in U.S. philanthropy for short-term and long-term recovery in times of disaster. Our recent work has supported survivors of the 2008 China earthquake, Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar in 2008 and typhoons Ketsana and Parma in Southeast Asia this past year.

These experiences have taught us a lot.

If you are interested in supporting the disaster relief and recovery efforts and helping the survivors in Haiti, I would like to share some tips and advice based on our experiences.

There are three phases of disaster response. Understanding these phases is important, because it can help you decide when and how you can assist.

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