a week of serious reflection
This has been a week of serious reflection for me — and I’m sure for most of you, in view of the horrible events that have taken place in Haiti. So much can change in the blink of an eye.
As someone said at the Golden Globe Awards in Los Angeles last night, “If you’re human, you can’t help but be affected by what’s happened in Haiti.” And continues to happen. It’s so disheartening to see how long it is taking for help to make a significant improvement in the horror the surviving Haitians are living one week after the killing earthquake. Many who were fortunate (or unfortunate) to have survived the quake are now dying untreated from their injuries — or dying from hunger or thirst as there is no food or clean water to keep them alive. How much more can one battered nation take?
I hadn’t realized that Haiti has had one major natural disaster after another. In just the past five years, there have been many. More than 800 people were killed by Hurricane Hanna and storms in 2008. There was Tropical Storm Alpha in 2005 that caused massive flooding and evacuation. The list goes on. Take a look at this link for more: http://www.webster.edu/~corbetre/haiti/misctopic/disaster/listofdis.htm.
Being located in a hurricane path and on a subterranean tectonic fault has caused a string of natural disasters in Haiti. It is certain that future natural disasters will happen. The major earthquake that hit last week had been predicted by scientists. Not the exact date, but they knew it would happen. And there wasn’t anything that could be done to prevent it.
Haiti continues on — like a crippled child trying to walk — continuing to fall down with each step forward. Never knowing if it will see the light of a happy, accident-free day.
A friend of mine went to Haiti last fall on a volunteer mission to help test Haitians in need of eye glasses. She told me of the filth and horror the people were living in – and that was before this latest earthquake! She said that garbage one foot high was everywhere in the streets. That roads still hadn’t been repaired from previous storms. Her eyes teared when thinking of how that horror would now be magnified from the destruction of the January 12, 2010 quake with its whopping 7.0 reading on the Richter scale.
Coincidentally, exactly one year ago, I was on the same island of Hispaniola, lapping the life of luxury at a 5-star resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic — just 50 miles from Port-au-Prince, Haiti. It’s a difficult 5-hour bus ride over a mountain range from the province of Bavaro, DR (where you find Punta Cana and most of the tourist resorts) to Port-au-Prince, Haiti. A relatively short ride, but it’s a complete world away.
It is utterly amazing how on the eastern half of the same island, life is pretty good for the locals who work at the resorts, and it’s certainly good for the tourists who come by the thousands each year to lay on the beautiful beaches and indulge themselves in the bountiful buffets. But on the western half of the island, Haitians live in filth and poverty, battling one major natural disaster after the other.
When we were in the Dominican Republic, I found it rather unsettling to know that we had to be accompanied by “Tourist Police” on the fabulous day tour we took with the Bavaro Runners tour company. http://www.bavarorunners.com/fulldaytour.html.
But police protection was necessary because the Haitians are known to assault tourists (for money, cameras, jewellery, etc.) and even rob tour groups — out of desperation. Now I understand why.
I’ve made my donation to try and help Haiti via the Red Cross. They are one of the reputable organizations who operate efficiently, honestly and within a small overhead: http://www.redcross.org/.
The Salvation Army is boasting that 100% of all donations go straight to the Haitian cause and that there is no administrative overhead. They are one of our favourite charitable organizations: http://www.salvationarmy.org/ihq/www_sa.nsf. No matter how and where you do it, please make a donation. It will help in some small way.
The big picture –as to whether all Haitians should be moved out and the land be left alone to withstand disaster without risk of human life, OR whether there are sufficient funds and manpower available to actually help rebuild Port-au-Prince to code (so that it has a chance at withstanding whatever form of natural disaster is next on the horizon) is far beyond my comprehension at this point in time.
But it certainly makes this writer’s own small problems seem much more manageable and insignificant.
Please share your thoughts. It is only through passionate, intelligent dialogue that we will be able to understand the challenges and improve the world in our own small and unique ways.