As you know, on Jan 12th an earthquake devastated Haiti. It happened on a Tuesday. My first knowledge of it came via Twitter from a woman, whose husband was visiting the country at the time, asking if it was true. Hours later I get home, turn on my TV and realize how serious the situation was.
On that Wednesday there was the expected outpour of concern for the needs of the Haitians and a mad rush to do any and everything possible (from most people at least... I will not discuss the lack of compassion I've also witnessed). Out of the madness quickly came both valuable information as well as misinformation. This included everything from 1st hand accounts via Twitter of the situation on the ground to false rumors about companies like UPS offering free shipping for items under 50lbs.
This situation brought on a whole range of emotions for me:
Sadness. For those who were (and still may be) hanging on to life, with hope of rescue. For the victims. For the families of victims. For the rescue workers. And for the women and children, who are most vulnerable in times like this.
Helpless and Powerless. Because sending that donation text doesn't pull someone out of the rubble that day. Because crying doesn't ease the anxiety they feel as another after-shock hits and everyone runs outside into the night. Because sending a second text doesn't immediately feed anybody as the hunger becomes unbearable. Because crying from the pain I feel doesn't alleviate theirs.
And last, but not least, Shame. For myself. For not knowing enough about Haiti prior to Jan 12th. For knowing of its story of independence and about the hunger and poverty to some degree, yet not understanding the richness of its history.
So what happens next? I remain committed to the people of Haiti. As the news networks continue to show fewer and fewer clips/photos, I will still be praying. I will still be supporting the rebuilding efforts in any way I can. And most importantly, I will still be educating myself and others about the country and its people. That's the promise I'm making.
Here are some links I used to get started:
-History of Haiti
-The Myth of Haiti’s Lawless Streets
-Haiti – the Politics of Rice
-Haiti's revolt inspired U.S. black activists
-US Policy in Haiti Over Decades
-Our Role in Haiti’s Plight
-Haiti's Tragic History Is Entwined with the Story of America