Saturday, July 17, 2010

Infrastructure ~ Preparedness ~ Lessons from Haiti

July 11, 2010   For the past 6 months I've been reading the blog of a young woman in her twenties, Rhyan, who was working with orphaned and needy babies in Haiti before the January 12, 2010  7.0 earthquake hit 10 miles outside Port au Prince.

Rhyan asks:
"What does it even mean to be an American? To someone born into this world maybe not much. I’m sure we have moments of breakthrough where we really see how blessed we are but for the most part we don’t recognize the honor that it is. To you and to someone who hasn’t always known this life it means so much more."

She's right.  I look around.
I have beans
that  I soaked overnight in refrigeration
while I was sleeping in a bed.
The beans are cooking on a gas stove. 
I am sitting in a chair.
My shod feet are on a flat wooden floor. 
There are strawberries ripening in the garden and chard bolting.
I have pets...
I have electricity and access to multiple communication technologies.
My car sits out front
and there is gasoline in it
and the road, busy with travelers looking for summer fun,
 is smooth and safe
and even when there is trouble help comes rather quickly. 

Rhyan writes:
"I have had situations when I walk down the streets in Haiti and a woman tries to give me her child. “Are you American?” She asks and when I respond she thrusts her infant into my arms. She begs me to take him to this place she has heard of, this place that had so much to offer. "

This is a young American writing...she's "out there."

July 17,2010   The news stories that came out on the six month mark of the earthquake seemed to indicate that NGO's, non governmental organizations, have been able to do the most in  Haiti, especially those that were already on the ground.  But the needs that exist have hardly been touched.  The news pictures of the tents lined in the median strip of a road really got me.  Unimaginable.

What can I do? PICK a group that is doing something in Haiti that I feel I can trust and support it as able. If you know someone involved consider supporting them.  Maybe you know an active church group, a specific orphanage or you might prefer a widely known group like Doctors with Borders, World Vision, World Relief or Red Cross.

We remember extra blankets in our cupboards that we are willing to send out when cold hits, but there is often no way to get them to those in need once the blizzard blows. Giving works best if it is in place before the great needs hit. The folks who gave to Shelter Box before the earthquake hit on January 12th are the ones who sent those wonderful supplies into that fray.   In January, touched by the needs of Haiti, I gave to Shelter Box.  I wanted to send the tents and shovels and emergency supplies right into that mess we were all watching televised.   On  the 2nd of  July I received a letter stating that "my shelter box" will soon be deployed and I can go on line and via the assigned box number  track where the box goes. Maybe the disaster this box will go to hasn't happened yet. 

Many of the on-going troubles in Haiti exist because life was "hard" before the earthquake and now loss, need, and complications to survival are greatly multiplied.

It's all about  infrastructure...the basics that allow things to happen: roads to get where you need to go, safe water supply, sewer systems, power supply, communication grids, emergency response.  These are the   basic physical and organizational structures that allow us to get on with our days in a organized society.
But we best not take all these wonders for granted...

So be prepared yourself  ...and give now.