January 14, 2010

Haiti Earthquake: Will America Care Next Week?

Haiti has been struggling for hundreds of years to overcome colonial domination, dictatorial leadership, poverty and the impact of hunger.

Things just got worse this week with the massive 7.0 magnitude earthquake. The lack of infrastructure, disaster preparedness and acute poverty makes a bad situation even worse. Homes, schools, churches have been destroyed. Villagers all over America wait, pray and hope for the safety of the people of Haiti. That nation's long struggle against poverty is now exacerbated, its needs now magnified, and the vulnerability of the Haitian people more greatly exposed.

Haiti is the poorest, least developed country in the Western Hemisphere, and the majority of Haitians live in poverty. The sheer scale of poverty in the country means that the government has limited capacity to meet even the simplest needs of its people, let alone address a disaster of this magnitude. In addition to creating a very real and immediate humanitarian tragedy, this earthquake and the struggle to navigate its aftermath will be an enormous setback to the hard-won gains that Haiti has achieved in recent years in securing a more stable environment and fighting poverty.

I suspect that America and the other nations of the world will respond well in the coming days and weeks. It is relatively simple to send in bottled water and to rush to find people ... living and dead ... in the tumbled buildings.

I don't have personal contact with many people of Haitian descent in person or otherwise. However, Haitian history tells us the Haitian people are resilient and determined to better their lives. I am confident that with the help of strong partners around the world, Haiti will rise from its rubble and Haitians will live their motto: L’union fait la force (Unity is strength).

I wonder if the collective goodwill on a national and international basis continues after the initial compassion being displayed right now?

Consider this an open thread about the earthquake in Haiti. Please share your prayers, thoughts or observations.

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