Thursday, January 14, 2010

International Aid

News of the devastating earthquake in Haiti is all over the airwaves, newspapers and Internet. Millions of people are suffering unspeakably due to lack of food, drinkable water, basic services, or the loss of a loved one(s). Aid organizations are mobilizing around the globe, and donations are pouring in.

My question is this: why is it that Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the world and THE poorest in the western hemisphere, all of a sudden deserves the world's attention on Tuesday when it didn't deserve the attention on Monday? We should always help a neighbor in crisis, but Haiti has been in crisis for a long time.

Some of the reports that I've read argue that much of the devastation in the city of Port au Prince could have been avoided had the buildings there been built properly. However, they were not built well because there wasn't enough money to do the job right, or if there was money it went to corrupt government officials instead of to materials and labor. I cannot confirm or deny the accuracy of these reports not being a contractor nor having ever been to Haiti, but certainly that country's history suggests that this report is likely true. Haiti has been ruled by one militaristic despot after another for the past several centuries, and is isolated from the world by trade embargoes that do not seem to have a warming effect on the country's totalitarian leaders.

The pain and suffering the Haitian people are enduring right now is heartbreaking. I hope that many survivors are found and are given treatment, and that basic services are restored quickly. I am glad that so many people are finally having their eyes opened to the everyday living conditions of many of the people in Haiti, and that if anything good can come of this horrible tragedy it is that people are mobilized to help, not just in the short-term, but over time to improve the lives of these poor and downtrodden people.

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