Sunday, January 17, 2010

Please Help Haiti

A warning: I'm going to do the "ugly American" thing here and try (in vain) to make something from my life connect to the incredible devastation in Haiti right now. It's what we do, right? "Two hundred people were killed in a plane crash... and two of them were Americans." As if somehow that's our signal to actually care. But the scope of the suffering in Haiti is so huge, so incomprehensible, my brain just can't wrap around it. So I take some tiny fragment of my own experience, tie it to what I'm hearing, and that's how I make it compute.

What's been stuck in my head this week has been an NPR report I heard describing people who suffered major fractures during the initial earthquake and could not get access to any medical attention for days, if at all. Why that? Because although I can't possibly relate to anything else going on, I have suffered a major fracture. One person, one injury, no widespread crisis, in a developed, wealthy (by the standards of most of the world) city. I grabbed my phone, and highly-trained paramedics were tending to me in a matter of minutes (though I should note that I whimpered and cried like a baby during those minutes). Within hours, I was under the knife of a skilled orthopedic surgeon. All because the luck of the draw made me a comfortably middle-class American with all the benefits that entails -- the ones we feel so entitled to, they just seem to go without saying.

Now, in Haiti, thousands of children (reports say that half their population is under 18) who were  lucky to survive the initial collapse at all are suffering with similar injuries, going days without treatment, enduring gangrene, losing limbs, and dying. Many have already lost their entire families.

I just donated money to help the relief effort. Is it misplaced middle-class guilt? Probably. Does it make me feel any better, like I'm making any sort of difference? Not really. But I'm asking my four readers (two Steves, one spammer selling Viagra, and someone who Googled in here by accident) to help too. Give what you can to the American Red Cross, the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, Doctors Without Borders, or the religious organization of your choice.

I don't have much of a sphere of influence, but I'm trying. I hope you will too.


essjay said...

Our American life does make us not realize how most of the world lives and it is sad. Like you, I whipped out the cash for Doctors Without Borders. I wish I could do more but at least we can do something that might help in some way.

Anonymous said...

Yep, made a donation to Red Cross days ago. I don't know if I credit this to middle-class guilt, Catholic guilt, or just being human.

Maybe the most difficult part of these situations is that some charities are more effective than others, not to mention the potential for being scammed while trying to help out. It's not always easy to do good.

Steve in Peoria