Posts Tagged ‘please help’
I had a job doing layout and ad design for the Boston Haitian Reporter during my senior year of college. It was a small outfit (I also did layout and ad design for sister publications the Dorchester Reporter and the Boston Irish Reporter), but it was valued by Boston’s Haitian immigrants. (Apparently, the Boston area has the third largest Haitian community in America. Who knew?) It was an exciting time to be around, because the first elections since the 2004 rebellion that ousted then-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide were taking place in the beginning of 2006, so there was a lot of news coming out of Haiti that was of great interest to immigrants here in Boston.
I learned a lot at that job, in particular about just how difficult it is to run an election in a country so gripped by poverty, corruption, and violence. And, in general, just how gripped by poverty, corruption, and violence Haiti really is. Eighty percent of its people live in poverty. The literacy rate is around 53 percent. It ranks 149th among 182 countries in the United Nations Human Development Index. It’s cruel and counterproductive to have a pissing match about which country is the worst on earth, but Haiti is certainly in the argument.
It seems like it’s been that way forever. Which is why this latest tragedy to befall Haiti seems so cosmically cruel. Natural disasters on this scale are always bad, of course, but Haiti is a country that was uniquely postured to be affected in an outsize way should a terrible disaster occur. And outsize is probably the most delicate way to put it, with the death toll still indeterminate but with estimates in the tens of thousands, most of the capital city of Port Au Prince in ruins, and barely a semblance of law and order in the streets. You can’t read a description of the devastation without imagining hell on earth. And this was a place that could have been classified as hell on earth already.
It’s all just incredibly sad, especially given Haiti’s history. In 1804, Haiti became only the second state in the Western hemisphere to throw off the yoke of colonial oppression. (Guess which was the first.) That’s a fact which, at least in my limited and tangential experience, Haitians (rightfully) wear like a badge of honor. These people are our sisters and brothers in revolution and independence. And I won’t get into how Western meddling has tipped the scales against the people of Haiti for years.
Suffice it to say, they need our help. My friend Sam, who researches this type of thing far more than I do, recommends giving to Partners in Health, which apparently has a lot of people already on the ground and a fair amount of infrastructure in place (or as much infrastructure as a nonprofit can have in a disaster area.) I’m going to throw a few bucks their way. I won’t twist any arms, but every little bit helps. And if you want to express your own self-determination, the Globe has set up a good fact sheet about various global and local nonprofits that are helping out. And as usual, if prayer is your sort of thing, say some words to the close and holy darkness for the people who have been affected by this disaster.