Today, they deal with the loss of loved ones, their homes, their security, and likely their own health. Many who are not dead are injured, and the hospitals are overwhelmed--some broken bones and fractured jaws will never get treated, and more illnesses are likely to develop if fresh water can't get into the country soon. Next Month, a large portion of an entire country will begin to be bulldozed, as if it were never settled and civilized. As if no one ever built the market, the streets, hospital, the homes, or the court house and instead dropped millions of soul-sick, grieving people in the middle of nothing and said "Survive, start over, all you have is the dirt under your feet. That's all anyone has." And Next Year, where will the debris go? The ghost cars, crushed and abandoned? They will rise up in huge piles, leaking and polluting and overwhelming those who were able to make themselves something, anything, out of the dirt in search of comfort and security.
I've seen what 1/100th of the destruction faced by the Haitian people can do to a city and its people here in the Good Ole' US of A, and it is staggering. For almost a year after Katrina, I walked to school flanked by 15 foot-tall piles of debris and lived amidst fallen-down buildings, and I knew that almost everyone I encountered had been touched by death. I say that to preface this statement: based on personal experience, I don't think I'm being dramatic when I say that our generation will never see the end of the mark that this earthquake has left on Haiti. The very makeup of the world has changed entirely, and overnight.
I wish I could do more.
In the meantime, I have and will continue to donate money to the American Red Cross, as well as Hurah, a human rights group committed to returning democracy and justice to Haiti and comprised of Haitians living and working in some of the hardest hit areas of the country. Please consider doing the same. The American Red Cross is having a text campaign, where you can donate $10 by texting "Haiti" to 90999 and the donation will simply be charged to your cell phone bill. (The company responsible for managing the money collection will not take any of their overhead costs from the donations intended for Haiti, so your full $10 will go to the Red Cross relief efforts.) The Red Cross has collected a record $4 million through their text campaign to date, and I sincerely hope that the momentum continues.
I should also say that there is some controversy regarding musician Wycleff Jean's relief efforts, since he has been linked to oppressive entities in Haiti. This is not to say that his organization is not helping the Haitian people with the money collected, only that the organization itself, Yele, can't necessarily be counted on to promote justice and democracy if it will challenge its vested interest in politics and maintaining the status quo, so please consider giving to an organization other than Yele if you are so inclined.