The Miami property developer, volunteering after Haiti's earthquake, was horrified to see children sleeping in the dirt under makeshift tents of bed sheets propped up on sticks. A global, billion-dollar aid effort should be able to do better, he thought.
He decided he could do better himself.
Michael Capponi flew home, collected donated tents, flew them back to Haiti and persuaded a mayor to let him build a proper camp for hundreds of families on the soccer field of a gated community of luxury villas. It took him three days and less than $5,000.
"I didn't put this together to get a pat on the back, but to show the world it can be done rather quickly, and with limited funds," said Capponi, 37.
AP reports that not all agree that these small scale operations can work effectively:
GuideStar USA, which monitors nonprofit organizations, said the magnitude of Haiti's crisis and the logistical difficulties involved in getting the aid to the people who need it most means it's a job for established organizations.
"I respect and appreciate people's passion and enthusiasm and energy," GuideStar President Bob Ottenhoff said. "But this is one of those moments where, in order to do this on a massive scale, I think we have to rely on the experts."
The AP writes about a number of groups, who have been successful in providing shelter such as "Un Techo Para Mi Pais" and The Courageous Church in Atlanta. As Capponi tells the AP:
Capponi, who didn't want to single out any aid group to avoid making enemies, questioned why relief workers need all the new white SUVs that have suddenly appeared in Port-au-Prince.
"People need to learn to be efficient with funds here," he said. "I have seen too many big NGOs (non-governmental organizations) waste too much money and I am fed up."
Capponi was able to provide 70 tents, with two water tanks and two portable toilets, housing hundreds of families, in just two days.