Never forget… Haiti

We Americans are all about remembering past tragedies.  It goes back to (at least) the Alamo and has been followed by Wounded Knee, the Maine, Pearl Harbor, 9-11, all the way up to Boston Strong.

This is a Good Thing.  The dictum of forgetting versus repeating history applies here.  If ever there was a history we don’t want to repeat it’s Pearl Harbor.  Or 9-11.  Or… well, you get the idea.

Can we extend those patriotic passions to our neighbors?  How about to one of our nearest, a nation we seem to either ignore or exploit: Haiti.  Four years ago today (as I write this on 1/12) they experienced one of the most devastating events a single nation has ever endured: the 2010 earthquake.

The statistics for that event do more than stagger the imagination.  They numb it.  They challenge it to conceive of such horror.

3,500,000 “affected” (whatever that means)

46,000 – 316,000 dead, depending on whose estimates you believe.  (When you’re talking numbers of that magnitude, does it matter?)

300,000+ injured (where an injury could mean the loss of multiple limbs)

100,000+ homes destroyed

up to 1.5 million left homeless

4,000 schools damaged or destroyed (in a country with no real public education and less than 50% literacy rate at the best of times)

One additional anecdotal data point: A nursing school collapsed, killing the entire class of 400 nursing students in a nation with wretched healthcare.

To add deadly insult to deadly injury, the quake was followed by an imported cholera epidemic that has so far (it’s far from over) killed over 8,000 people.

My point?  Don’t forget Haiti.

It’s true that the world was extravagantly generous immediately following the quake.  Two problems, though.

First, much of the pledged money never actually came through.  Please don’t lay the full blame at the feet of proverbial “corrupt Haitian officials”.  Doubtless, that’s a problem in Haiti as elsewhere, but the greater problem is that very little money ever made it to those officials.  Most was funneled through NGO’s who have their own problems with corruption and mismanagement.  And some of those pledges were never delivered at all.

Second, it’s been four years and much of the compassion has dried up along with the money.  Haiti has been forgotten by most people.  Compassion fatigue.  A common problem.  As the New York Times put it: “Four years after the earthquake, Haiti is a fragile, largely forgotten country.”

But the need remains, even if the psychic real estate has been lost in the rest of the world.  Real people are still suffering and dying every day.

For those of us who call ourselves followers of Christ, the option of turning a deaf ear and blind eye doesn’t exist.  As Don Francisco once put it so succinctly, “…refusing His command is not a choice we ought to bear, while the people Jesus died to save die and we don’t care.”

And there’s nothing human about the humanist who ignores the plight of the Haitian people.

Please remember Haiti.  We can’t all go there to help, so it behooves us to support those who are there.  Here are some organizations I’m familiar with that deserve our support:

Partners in Health

Servants for Haiti

Sean Penn’s J/P HRO

Research charities on Charity Navigator and support the good ones.  At least pay attention to what’s happening in Haiti.  Care.

There could be a test.



About rickconti

It's not about me, remember?
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1 Response to Never forget… Haiti

  1. Carol Yutkowitz says:

    Funny — the night after I read this post (which may not have been the day you posted it) there was a piece on the news about Partners in Health and the work they are doing in Haiti. So hopefully not everyone has forgotten!

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