Helping Haiti

by Belinda Munoz on January 14, 2010

Children Play Tug of War in MINUSTAH Civic Day Event

I had several ideas for this post but all of them kept pulling me back to Haiti.

News of the devastation in Haiti is a struggle to hear.  A country already one of the poorest, flattened even more.  Generation after generation.   Fraught with abject poverty, political unrest and infectious diseases.  Seemingly unable to catch a break.

I don’t claim to know much about Haiti.  I first took an interest after reading a book by Edwidge Danticat in the 90s.  Then, not too long ago, I read a book about one of my heroes Dr. Paul Farmer written by Tracy Kidder called Mountains Beyond Mountains.  It’s an inspirational story about the beginnings of Partners In Health, Dr. Farmer’s impressive work and dedication to providing free health care for the poor, starting with Haiti and while he was studying anthropology and medicine at Harvard.

Haiti.  A land of beautiful people no strangers to hardship and dictatorship.  A place where children take turns eating cookies made of dirt; because some days, it’s not their turn to fill their stomach.  An island nation intimate with cries, hunger and desperation.

Haiti.  Her land shook and the whole world shifted with Her.

And today,
as we did yesterday,
as we will tomorrow,
We will stand with Haiti and show Her She is not going through this alone.
We will continue to send aid, money, search and rescue teams, doctors, nurses and anything else She needs.
We will do whatever we can to help.

Because we can.
Because we want to.
Because Haiti is one of us.
Because this is what we did during Katrina and Loma Prieta.
Because this is what it means to be part of the human race.

As to the question of humans versus Mother Earth, it seems the worst in Her brings out the best in us.  Doesn’t it?

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If you’re interested in joining the millions of people who want to send monetary aid but are unsure how, Partners In Health is a very reputable organization with a longstanding presence in Haiti.  Click here if you’d like to give at least ten dollars.
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UPDATE: I just read Kelly Diels’ Help Haiti Blog Challenge and it inspired me to join.  I will make an additional $5 donation to Partners In Health for every comment you leave.  I’m curious to hear how you feel about your personal development in relation to Haiti.  Do you think you can be helpful to others even as you’re working on developing yourself? 

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Image by United Nations Photo

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January 14, 2010 at 6:15 pm

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1 Patty - Why Not Start Now? January 14, 2010 at 4:30 pm

Thanks for writing about Haiti, Belinda. I have to admit when I saw “Haiti” in the title of your post, I tensed up a bit. I haven’t been able to bring myself to read about the devastation there yet because I know it will be so sad and overwhelming. But that’s no way to bring out the best is it? So I clicked your link and made a donation. Thank you for reminding us all of what it means to be human.

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2 Belinda Munoz January 14, 2010 at 5:31 pm

Hi Patty. I know what you mean. It’s generally not happy news. But yesterday, I bravely mined for good news about Haiti and was struck by how much I found. I learned that a lot of celebrities are using their star power to contribute, that thousands of nurses are voluntarily signing up to travel there to help, that folks are all a-twitter about the many different ways to help. And it reminded me of Bangladesh, of Katrina, of the ‘89 quake that I experienced here in SF. And I remember how many people (students, academics, activists, etc.) around me wanted to go to the different sites that were badlly damaged to see if they could be helpful. It seems there is a pattern, and a good one. Many of us have an instinct to help. Some are more unafraid to do so than others, but still.

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3 Jeanne January 14, 2010 at 10:01 pm

Belinda, your comment “As to the question of humans versus Mother Earth, it seems the worst in Her brings out the best in us. Doesn’t it?” got me thinking: it almost sounds like “tough love”, doesn’t it? Like, Mother Nature rattles and quakes to get our attention focused on our brothers in need; to get our attention away from our relatively petty concerns; to remind us that we ARE a global community. Does it take a great disaster to get our attention? Like the only way to get a donkey’s attention is with with a 2 x 4? I don’t know, I’m just sayin’ . . .

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4 ayo January 15, 2010 at 4:20 pm

As to the question of humans versus Mother Earth, it seems the worst in Her brings out the best in us. Doesn’t it?

yes it does because we forget our differences, race, colour, religion and just rally round to help. we zone into compassion because we are humans. belinda you’ve taken a good initiative here. We would keep praying for the people in Haiti and rallying round to raise money or make donations towards their aid here in london.
take care.

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5 Belinda Munoz January 15, 2010 at 5:15 pm

@Jeanne, I’m glad you asked that question as I have wondered the very same thing myself. “Does it take a great disaster to get our attention?” My take on it is simple and largely from my own experience. For some, it doesn’t have to take a disaster of epic proportions to care. These are the people who aren’t reactionary about caring for others and instead, have integrated it into their lives. And I am fortunate to have in my midst some truly caring individuals who are generous with their time and resources for those who need help. For many, it seems the earth literally needs to shift to get them to really see our connectedness. For others, and I hope I’m wrong, not even the wrath of nature could squeeze an ounce of sympathy if it doesn’t directly impart them. We’re a mixed bag, I suppose, but nonetheless, ARE a global community. Whether a shift on the tectonic plates is enough for humans to have a paradigm shift is a tougher question. Thank you for chiming in.

@Ayo, your words are uplifitng! Though we hope that one day, it won’t have to take a major disaster to bring out the best in us, it’s comforting to know that Haiti makes us see no color and no religion — just humanity. Thanks for your words.

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6 Fr. Michael January 18, 2010 at 9:28 am

There was a young man on our retreat here this past weekend. I’ve known him for several months. He’s from Haita. He’s just a remarkably mature and genuinely holy kid (17 years old). His father and sister were in Port Au Prince during the quake. His father is still there–alive thankfully; his sister is back in the US.
He asked the very difficult question: Did God do this? My response was an unequivocal “No!” For some strange reason, this was “allowed” to happen. We talked about how things like this bring people together…bring out the best in people. I don’t pretend to understand why this happened; but it’s difficult not to be moved by the deep generosity and love that the world is showing. Tragedies like this transcend politics and religion. We are brought together to bring love and aid to the suffering. Suffering can bring out the best in us.
Thanks Belinda…and I’m happy I was able to get you to donate 5 more bucks! I, too, will continue to give…

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7 BK January 19, 2010 at 6:36 pm

I couldn’t agree with you on the last two sentences that the worst in Mother Nature brings out the best in us, as we could always see people reaching out to victims of natural calamities. I hope the best in us can continue to shine through the dark clouds even in peaceful time. Haiti’s news is not pleasant to read or hear. What I hope for is for the aids to reach the people in the soonest possible time.

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