Let's be real for a minute. Before the earthquake landed on Haiti, HOPE was already pretty thin for the people who were living there. Now tens of thousands of them have died, suddenly, and many more are going to die less suddenly and less kindly. I cannot imagine what it is like: the fear, the days of waiting, trying to help without tools, watching as the fear and stress brings out the best in some, the worst in others. Waiting for big governments and organizations like Unicef and the Red Cross to bring help. Hoping it arrives soon enough with water and rice for the children to live.
On this end, I feel helpless and powerless. I can write a check, but that doesn't really feel adequate. I turn back to the television to watch footage, or say an embarrassingly short prayer.
I grew up in the Caribbean. Since moving to the United States as a young woman, I have been frustrated at times by the lack of awareness shown by governments and news outlets to the problems of our close neighbors: shocking stories about earthquakes and hurricanes are the rare exceptions. I love this country my country, but I am afraid that after a few weeks, the survivors of this earthquake, after the horrible funerals and circles of starvation and disease, will join the ranks of other forgotten causes. They will go back to their accustomed poverty quietly.
So may I issue a challenge?
Yes, participate in this week's heroic fundraising efforts. There are several reliable organizations moving aid to Haiti while the rest of us are asleep. But the horrible problems coming to Haiti are not going to be fixed in a week by these quick aid packages. Some organizations (naming no names), while very good at initial front-line aid, are notoriously poor at following through with long-term care. In the months to come, please do your homework, and look for other organizations, perhaps not as large or well funded, who will be doing the long term work, and help them. In the months and years to come, after the media have all gone home and are sitting behind big desks sipping coffees, a few will continue working, finding homes for orphans, rebuilding schools, and helping people restart destroyed businesses.
(Yes please visit the Red Cross Fundraiser in Second Life ... our fabulous creators have generously provided quite a lot of cute things, designed to appeal to a range of tastes, all proceeds to benefit the Red Cross. I am wearing one of the Reek shirts and Tiny Bird hair.)